Facebook and Google vs. Canada and The Flatlander

Blocking news is retaliation by Meta and Google for Canada’s Bill C-18, which would make Big Tech pay for the news shared on their platforms.

In the next few months, you’ll probably stop seeing Canadian news on Facebook, Instagram and Google. 

Blocking the news is Big Tech’s retaliation for Bill C-18, the Online News Act, which Canada just passed in hopes of making major companies like Meta and Google pay for the news content shared on their platforms. 

As a small, local, independent digital publication, The Flatlander will probably be hurt by Big Tech’s news ban, as Facebook and Google are how this publication reaches new audiences.

And, since The Flatlander is relatively early in its journey and doesn’t yet have two journalists on staff (it’s just me and sometimes a few freelancers), it is not yet recognized as a qualified Canadian journalism organization. Therefore I am not eligible under Bill C-18 to be paid by the Big Tech companies (if the law works as intended and Google and Meta eventually pay up). 

But what will likely end up happening is Facebook and Google will block the news, meaning it’s going to be harder for readers to find journalism about Saskatchewan and Manitoba online and even harder for The Flatlander to sustain its work.

Local, independent, in-depth.

Our Prairie stories.

I believe news shouldn’t be suppressed, especially local stories about issues impacting the Canadian Prairies.

If you want to protect this local coverage — and stick it to Big Tech — please support our journalism directly today! 

Right now, your support is more important than ever. Don’t let independent news sources like The Flatlander become collateral damage in the Canadian government’s fight against Big Tech.

We need your help to sustain our journalism. 

Will you help ensure Manitoba and Saskatchewan can still access free local news that untangles complex issues impacting Saskatchewan and Manitoba?

If you have any friends that get their news from social media, we would also appreciate your help in forwarding this email to them and asking them to sign up for our newsletter.

Thank you for supporting independent news.

Now onto our regular issue of The Flatlander…

Last month, The Flatlander partnered with The Resolve to look at environmental racism, using the example of how the creation of the Grand Rapids dam in Manitoba resulted in the flooding of Indigenous communities. If yous missed it, see Flooding forced my family to leave.

One reader wrote in to ask about the millions of dollars in settlement money that was paid to First Nations by Manitoba Hydro for resettling elsewhere after their communities were flooded.

And that is true. The affected First Nations were compensated. But even so, the matter continues to face court battles to this day

Let’s look at the Chemawawin First Nation and what happened following the relocation of that community. 

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In 1990, Manitoba Hydro paid out $30 million after flooding the communities of Chemawawin, Moose Lake, The Pas and Grand Rapids. The Chemawawin received $13.5 million of that money.  

In October 1997, Chemawawin First Nation received a $395,000 grant to recover over 200 flooded tombstones. The bodies were relocated to a graveyard in a nearby community.  

There is a Winnipeg Sun article from 2005 I came across while scrolling through newspaper archives regarding another $2.2 million in compensation the Chemawawin received along with 80,000 acres of land.  

Also, because of the flooding, Manitoba set up a trust fund for Chemawawin of $400,000 that was supposed to be spent on capital investment. However, in 2013, allegations surfaced in the community that the funds were misappropriated by band leadership at the time. 

In 2010, Chemewawin, Grand Rapids, and Opaskwayak took the federal government to court, saying there was a failure of duty to protect the First Nations from the flooding. 

Waiting for government compensation

The Grand Rapids Dam was built between 1960 to 1968.  

The Chemawawin people left their homes in 1964, but much of the compensation they received wasn’t given to them until 1990 and later, so a period of 26 years or more. 

If you’re looking for some cumbersome legal reading, the Government of Manitoba has agreements, which can be found online, signed with at least 12 different First Nations due to the adverse effects of hydroelectric development. There are about 30 agreements, by my count, to wade through that date back to 1991 to 2013. Each Nation has more than one agreement with Manitoba Hydro in relation to the dam development.  

How much compensation money directly benefitted the regular individual Chemawawin band member is unclear.  

In 2010, a group of trappers and elders sued the province because they said they were left out of all previous settlements. Their claim included a long list of damages, including the loss of income, damaged equipment, breach of treaty rights, duty to consult, bad faith dealings, as well as deceit and negligence on the part of the Government of Manitoba.  

According to some articles I came across in the archives,  it seemed there was some initial excitement amongst the Chemawawin population when they moved to their new homes in Easterville. Health care was more accessible. The community had a store, a school and was connected to southern Manitoba by a highway.  

But easy access to southern Manitoba proved problematic because more drugs and alcohol entered the community.  

Also, since the community was now cut off from their traditional ways of living in their former community, many people went on welfare.

The soil their new community was built upon was saturated with limestone, meaning the Chemawawin couldn’t even garden in their new location. Their previous homes had cultivated fields and land to graze cattle.

They also lost the trees when the land was flooded, which fed a local sawmill.  

And they lost marshland that trappers commonly used. As well, the area where they fished was choked up with submerged trees, which destroyed nets and boat propellers. 

Unemployed youth found themselves involved in gangs and violence.  

“I want Manitoba people to know our story,” said Easterville Chief Clarence Easter in 1997. “The flood took a way of life with it.”  

He said. back in the 1960s, his community elders were told they could leave the easy way or the hard way, which would have involved the RCMP and the military being called in.  

Easter, himself, wasn’t interested in pursuing any lawsuits because he thought they would take too long and weren’t worth the hassle. 

Undetermined costs

The hydro dams in the North were created to lower electricity rates in southern Manitoba, but electricity rates became more expensive in the North.    

With the decades of lawsuits that followed, the building of hydro dams in Northern Manitoba likely cost more than the government initially anticipated, especially if one were to add all the legal fees on top of the settlements. 

In May, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, along with the Community Association of South Indian Lake and the South Indian Lake Fisherman’s Association, filed a claim against Manitoba Hydro in Winnipeg’s Court of King’s Bench for what they say is a “half century of harm” after the Churchill River Diversion project, which was completed in 1976.  

According to the claimants, it redirects 85 per cent of the flow of the Churchill River to hydroelectric dams to the south. It ruined shorelines, caused disruptions to local fish habitats, and declines in commercial fisheries. 

The claimants are asking the court for compensation from Manitoba Hydro, for the government agency to restore ecological integrity to the lake, and for an injunction restraining Manitoba Hydro from operating the diversion that interferes with the use and enjoyment of lands and Treaty rights. 

Word choice?

Some readers asked about the word BIPOC, which came up in the last issue. If you missed it, BIPOC means Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.  

Some people weren’t familiar with the term. And it is fairly new. 

The acronym was created as an effort to reclaim labels that have been previously used to oppress persons from racially minoritized groups.

The term “people of colour” (POC) itself emerged as a “person-first” way to take back the phrase “coloured people, for instance, but there were also problems with this new term too. (And now there is discussion around if the term BIPOC is enough and works as intended).  

The acronym BIPOC began being used on the Internet as early as 2013, as far as The New York Times could tell when they researched the term.   

BIPOC became more commonly used in June 2020 after the death of George Floyd, which increased people’s awareness of racial justice in the United States. 

I only came across the acronym myself in 2018, very randomly, while reading Tanis MacDonald’s book “Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City.” 

MacDonald is originally from Winnipeg but now teaches at  Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont.  

She wrote: “the term BIPOC is very useful; it gestures structural inequities shared by people with these identities, yet it also separates and differentiates those communities and histories. It’s similar in some ways to how the term LBGTQ indicates solidarity among lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and queer folks without implying that their politics or challenges are exactly the same.”  

These days, some people will dismiss articles about racism as “woke,” which is a word attached to many issues these days. But, if you trace the word back to the 1940s. It was a word used by African Americans to be woken up to racial justice issues, so maybe articles about racism are technically “woke.”  

Woke is the past tense of wake, which, if you follow the etymology of the word back to its origins in the fifth century, comes from the Old English word wacan meaning “to awake, arise, originate,” from an “on” + wacan “to arise, become awake.” 

In 2017, the word “woke” on its own, not as a past tense of wake, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary and was defined as “being ‘aware’ or ‘well-informed’ in a political or cultural sense.”

But more than five years later, the word is being weaponized online and used insultingly against someone who may have different political views.  

I find the history of language and how a word changes over time fascinating.

There is a series on Netflix called The History of Swear Words, hosted by Nicolas Cage, which is worth a watch. (But be warned, the show contains a lot of swearing). The history is interesting, especially the last episode on the word “damn.”  

Five stories from Manitoba you may have missed

  1. Whooping cough outbreak in parts of southern Manitoba
  2. Death knell for the Winnipeg school bells
  3. Selkirk’s water treatment plant goes green, eliminates fossil fuels
  4. Prairie Rose School Division rejects request for book ban
  5. Four-day cultural festival ‘Rolling into Rivers’ this July to celebrate area history

Five stories from Saskatchewan you may have missed

  1. Saskatchewan RCMP investigating 15 homicides in 2023
  2. Dundurn, Saskatchewan smashes dinosaur costume world record
  3. Saskatchewan universities discuss offering more online courses
  4. Saskatoon family, NDP lament exodus of medical specialists
  5. Saskatchewan suspends Planned Parenthood school presentations

Our Prairie stories matter too.

The Flatlander takes a closer look at the stories that unite us, and make us unique, in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.


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