Rita Frances Monias is from Pimicikamak Nation, also known as Cross Lake in English, located in Northern Manitoba. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of General Studies, and a Counselling Certificate. Rita Monias was inspired by her father and supported by her mother; both fully encouraged her. (1)


In 1989, before and after development of the local Manitoba (MB) Hydro project, officially called the Jenpeg Generating Station, Rita wrote a newsletter for the Band Council regarding the effects of hydro development.

“Manitoba Hydro knows the story in Pimicikamak Nation. They [Rita and her husband Thomas] tell the community not to pay their hydro bills because Manitoba Hydro takes a lot from them already. The community invoices Manitoba Hydro for the damage inflicted on them by the Crown corporation. Manitoba Hydro pays water rental to Pimicikamak for land use. Pimicikamak tells Manitoba Hydro not to step in Pimicikamak. The community steps on Manitoba Hydro’s toes.” (2)

Rita and three other community members once disseminated the Northern Flood Agreement - a historic modern treaty signed between 5 First Nations, MB Hydro, the Province of Manitoba, and the Federal Government of Canada back in 1977. In doing so, the Chief, Council and the Community read and understood that the Northern Flood Agreement was an ugly story after pretty promises. After Rita and the three other community members used a Legal Dictionary to understand the settlement, they gathered signatures, and the proposed settlement was turned down. Pimicikamak remains the only First Nation of the original 5 not to have accepted an implementation agreement, and instead insists on fulfillment of the original terms.


The Manitoba Hydro project was over-studied by the Crown Corporation. They studied the effects of development on plants, animals, and water, but nothing came of it. Studies done by the Federal and Provincial governments and Manitoba Hydro are biased to their advantage, not for the community. The community needs independent studies done, completely away from the parties involved.

A boil water advisory is not a solution, it is a warning. Boiling water causes condensation in a house. Condensation in a house with the windows closed during cold months causes mold.

There are many illnesses affecting the community members: diseases of the stomach, kidney, hypertension and many more. When people use prescription drugs to alleviate the symptoms of their illness, the chemicals in the water change the drug's effect. Chemicals added to the water kills the medicinal value of prescribed medication for people.

The community is impoverished due to their hereditary way of life being negatively impacted. They cannot afford bottled water. The community is aware that plastic bottles also cause pollution in their area.

Natural food is disappearing: animals, fish, plants, clean water. The treated water that the community is offered is a risk because it is contaminated with chemicals that are used to clean it. No one is informed about what type of chemicals are being used.


Rita states that the Persons of the North are experiencing environmental racism. They are surrounded by development, and it is affecting their hereditary way of life. Animal and fish species are going extinct. In Thompson, there are white people living well; it’s the Indigenous persons who are affected negatively.

Rita explains at the meetings between community members and employees of Manitoba Hydro, that the First Nations persons were told that their way of life was killing all the animals and that it was unsustainable. Meanwhile, the nomadic way was to go where there was an abundance of food, and always took care to leave male and female animals, and plants well and alive. 

When the community members went to a Manitoba Hydro meeting about the price of food, they were told that they shouldn’t be eating those types of meals. They were told to go to the Canada Post for cheap food.


Rita informed me that the Commercial Fisheries went to Manitoba Hydro for compensation and received a settlement for having lost their livelihood (due to the negative effects of Hydro development). At the same time, of the few elders that do still fish, even if they want to catch fish or generally leave the settlement by boat, they can’t do either due to problems with navigation of the waters caused by hydro development. The settlements were for the individual fishermen, and not for the community as a whole.


In First Nations’ history, there has been no known drought. The community usually depended on oral history from their elders who never mentioned droughts except for man-made ones caused by hydroelectric developments. Rita added that now there are man-made droughts every year. Only when there is flooding in the region, are the droughts lessened. 

There’s a big issue right now with Hydro breaching water levels. Water levels are supposed to be set every year, but they are breached every year. Pimicikamak Nation hired a hydrologist to investigate, and as a result, the community received $250 million in 1980 for a low water event. The fee should be more now in 2023.


Rita recalls several ways that she and the community stood up for their rights. One such event happened when Greg Sellinger, former Premier of Manitoba, went to Pimicikamak on a chartered flight with Manitoba Hydro employees to have a meeting about a production plant. Rita Monias, Jackson Osborne and Courtney McKay went to Jenpeg to show pictures of damages to their community due to the Manitoba Hydro projects. They were invited onto the plane to show the pictures and explain the dire state of their community. The plane took off with them, along for the ride back to Winnipeg! The plane did return them home.  

Rita recalled a suspicious event Manitoba Hydro took part in, within Pimicikamak. It occurred when the hydro transformers were being transported during the dark of night from Cross Lake to Garden Hill and Red Sucker Lake. Thomas Monias and William Osborne met the driver in Nednak and told the driver to go back where he came from and leave without the transformer. The driver left the transformer. 

Rita also took another stand for her community and put signs up outside the new Manitoba Hydro building on Portage Avenue, with the help of one man who was diabetic and required a kidney transplant. Eventually they brought the signs into the building as well.

Rita has a great memory of when she actively walked from house to house with North American Megadam Resistance Alliance and she came to a house that was answered by 5 girls. Rita was happy that they were interested and that they let her into their house to talk about water. Out the window of the house, Rita could see a muddy lake. Rita explained to the girls that the waters were not always this way. Rita described memories of swimming in the water and drinking the water straight from the source. 


  1. Rita’s biography was taken from this website: https://damwatchinternational.org/staff/rita-monias/
  2. At the Wa Ni Ska Tan Conference on November 8, 9 & 10, 2019, Rita Monias spoke during the breakout session ‘Mega Dams = Mega Damage’