As required by the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Funding Act, 2017 (the Act), the following is the annual report submitted by the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation (EWRRP) Chair to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks on behalf of the EWRRP Panel. The report includes: a message from the Chair, background information on the Act and the Panel, and a description of the work of the Panel, including a status report on the Trust.

ISSN 2561-8903

ISBN 978-1-4868-4343-5

Message from the Panel Chair

I am pleased to present the 2019-2020 Annual Report of the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Panel. The report fulfills the requirements of the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Funding Act, 2017 to report annually to the Minister and leadership of each participating Indigenous community. The report documents the Panel’s activities as it carried out its mandate from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020.

During this reporting period, the Panel continued to approve funding for projects, led by Members and Participants, that advanced the understanding of mercury in the water, sediments, wetlands, fish and other fauna and flora of the English and Wabigoon River system. The Panel also approved funding of Members and Participants as they increased their capacity to participate in the work of the Panel and engaged their communities’ members in supporting the work of the Panel.

Thanks to the commitment of each represented government, the Panel continued to make positive strides towards the common goal of remediating mercury in the English and Wabigoon Rivers.

As the Panel looks forward to the next year, the global pandemic has highlighted the challenges facing communities and the importance of working together on shared goals and objectives. As the Panel plans its work for the upcoming year, it is committed to ensuring that this important work advances in a timely and effective manner.

I look forward to our ongoing collaboration on this important project and to continuing to share the successes of the Panel.

Sincerely,

Indra R. Prashad, P.Eng.
Panel Chair

Background

English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Funding Act, 2017

The English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Funding Act, 2017 (“the Act”) came into effect December 14, 2017.

The purpose of the Act is to provide for:

  • The funding of the remediation of contaminants in the English and Wabigoon Rivers
  • The co-operative management of that funding by Ontario, and the two First Nations that have been most directly and significantly affected by historic mercury contamination in the English and Wabigoon Rivers; and
  • An opportunity for other Indigenous communities that have a historic relationship with the English and Wabigoon Rivers to be involved in discussions in respect of that funding.

The Act established the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Trust (“Trust”) with $85 million in dedicated funding to support the purposes of the Act. The Act also established the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Panel, a decision-making structure that includes Members representing Grassy Narrows First Nation, Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, and Ontario. As Indigenous communities who have a historic relationship with the rivers and who have expressed interest in this project, Eagle Lake First Nation, Wabauskang First Nation and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation also actively participate in supporting the work of the Panel.

The Panel is responsible for providing advice to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks on a series of items, including: the terms and conditions of the Trust, the Panel’s Practices and Procedures, criteria for making payments from the Trust, and remediation goals and objectives, among others. The Panel is also responsible for directing the expenditure of the Trust funds towards the remediation of mercury in the English and Wabigoon Rivers.

BMO Trust Company was appointed by the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks as the Trustee. BMO Global Asset Management was retained by the Trustee to manage the Trust assets.

The Panel Annual Report

Section 11(1) of the Act includes a requirement for the Panel to prepare an annual report by June 1 of each year. This requires the Panel to report in respect of:

  • The activities funded by the Trust for the annual period ending on March 31 in the year in which the Report is due
  • The balance of funds remaining in the Trust as of March 31 in the year in which the Report is due
  • A forecast of the expenditures from the Trust for the five-year period beginning April 1 in the year in which the Report is due
  • A recommendation of whether additional funds will be required to fund the Trust and in what amount; and
  • A description of how the activities funded by the Trust have contributed to the remediation of the English and Wabigoon Rivers.

The Chair of the Panel is required to submit the Panel’s Annual Report to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and to the leadership of the Indigenous communities that participated in the work of the Panel. The Minister is required to table the report in the Legislature.

The Trustee is also required to submit an annual report by June 1 of each year reporting on the financial affairs of the Trust and disbursement of trust assets. The Trustee is to provide this report to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the leadership of each Indigenous community that participated in the work of the Panel, and the Chair of the Panel. The Minister is also required to table this report in the Legislature.

The English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Panel

Panel Members are appointed by their represented governments. The Panel Chair and Vice-Chair are selected by the Members from amongst themselves.

Panel Participants are nominated by the leadership of their Indigenous community and authorized by the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The operation of the Panel is governed by the Act, the Panel’s Practices and Procedures, and criteria for making payments from the Trust.

Panel Members

Ontario

  • Alison Pilla, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Policy Division, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks - Panel Chair (until January 28, 2020)
  • Richard Raeburn-Gibson, Director, Eastern Region, Drinking Water and Environmental Compliance Division, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (until January 28, 2020)
  • Mark Dunn, Director, Compliance Planning and Spills Action Centre, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (from January 28, 2020)
  • Indra Prashad, Director, Indigenous Drinking Water Projects Office, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (from January 28, 2020)

Grassy Narrows First Nation

  • Chief Rudy Turtle
  • David Sone

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations

  • Chief John Paishk (until April 16, 2019)
  • Chief Waylon Scott (from April 16, 2019)
  • Councillor Rocky Bunting – Panel Vice-Chair

Panel Participants

Eagle Lake First Nation

  • Jordan Gardner, Lands and Resources Coordinator

Wabauskang First Nation

  • Councillor Jo-Anne Petiquan-Moore

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation

  • Robert Parenteau, Lands and Resources Director

The Technical Subcommittee

The Technical Subcommittee was established in February 2018. It meets on an as needed basis as determined by the Panel. The purpose of the Technical Subcommittee is to support the Panel in making informed decisions about proposals for the funding of remediation activities. The group is composed of Traditional Knowledge Holders from each First Nation and technical advisors from each represented government.

Technical Subcommittee Representatives

Grassy Narrows First Nation

  • William Fobister Sr., Traditional Knowledge Holder
  • Nelson Walter, Technical Advisor
  • Reed Harris, Technical Advisor

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations

  • George Land, Traditional Knowledge Holder
  • Marvin McDonald, Traditional Knowledge Holder
  • Ariel Lupu, Technical Advisor
  • John Donetz, Technical Advisor

Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

  • Margaret Neff, Technical Advisor
  • Saloni Clerk, Technical Advisor

Eagle Lake First Nation

  • Margaret Wabonge, Traditional Knowledge Holder
  • Levi Snook, Technical Advisor - Panel Liaison
  • Alison Fraser, Technical Advisor - Panel Liaison

Wabauskang First Nation

  • Betty Riffel, Traditional Knowledge Holder
  • Seni Kokolic, Technical Advisor
  • Ryan Haines, Technical Advisor
  • Alissa Van Wynen, Technical Youth Advisor

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation

  • Annie Dietrich, Technical Advisor
  • Jason Mann, Technical Advisor

The Panel Secretariat

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks provides Secretariat support to the Panel and the Technical Subcommittee. As directed by the Panel, the Secretariat is responsible for coordinating meetings, preparing Panel documents, drafting operational policy, maintaining records and reviewing funding proposals, among other tasks.

Achievements

Panel achievements

Similar to the previous reporting period, the Panel continued to assess and fund projects aimed at characterizing mercury in the English and Wabigoon Rivers. The information collected as a result of these projects will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the current state of the environment and inform future remediation options. The Panel also provided capacity funding to the First Nation Panel Members and Participants to support their involvement in the work of the Panel and Technical Subcommittee.

In early 2019, the Panel established a Responsible Party Working Group, consisting of representatives appointed by their respective communities, to assist the Panel in developing advice to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks on project management for the remediation planning of the English and Wabigoon Rivers.

The Responsible Party Working Group held three teleconference meetings, facilitated by the ministry, during this reporting period. During these meetings, the appointees on the Responsible Party Working Group discussed their communities’ perspectives on potential criteria and preliminary options for a project manager for remediation planning. The Responsible Party Working Group anticipates continuing their discussions during 2020-2021.

During this reporting period, the Panel held seven in-person meetings and three teleconferences. Two in-person meetings were hosted by a community: one by Grassy Narrows First Nation and one by Eagle Lake First Nation.

Conducting meetings in communities offers opportunities for information sharing between the community members and the Panel. During these meetings, community members share their stories and opinions about mercury contamination. They also receive information about the Panel’s work to address the contamination.

Technical Subcommittee achievements

The Technical Subcommittee reviewed funding proposals as directed by the Panel. It interpreted scientific and technical information, worked to develop consistent methodologies for field work and assessed data gaps. In undertaking these tasks, the group shared information, and discussed the data and results acquired through field work and other means. After each meeting, the Panel Liaison reported back to the Panel on the group’s discussions.

During this reporting period, the Technical Subcommittee held four in-person meetings and seven teleconferences. One meeting was hosted by Eagle Lake First Nation.

Trust update

Activities funded by the Trust between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020

1. Pre-remediation activities

At this stage of the project, funds are being directed to pre-remediation activities, which are intended to characterize mercury contamination in the English and Wabigoon River system. The data collected and observations made during this work will inform future remediation and monitoring efforts. Funds were also provided for First Nation capacity building and technical training. Traditional Knowledge Holders are actively engaged and play a critical role in the Panel process by undertaking pre-remediation activities and supporting training and community engagement programs.

Many of the activities described below span more than one reporting period and may have disbursements from previous years. Generally, for pre-remediation activities approved by the Panel, funds are disbursed in multiple installments following the approval of required documentation: at the beginning of the project following approval of the proposed work plan and budget, mid-project following approval of an interim report(s), and after the project’s completion following receipt of any deliverables and approval of a final report and reconciled budget.

Activities included in the following section were either started, completed or ongoing during the 2019-2020 reporting period. For activities that have received funding in prior years, the total amounts disbursed to date has also been included.

A summary table of all pre-remediation funds disbursed during the 2019-2020 reporting period and a summary table of accumulative disbursements for all pre-remediation activities funded to March 31, 2020 are provided below. These financial summaries were developed by the Panel to provide information regarding the activities funded by the Trust for this reporting period. Audited financial statements for the Trust can be found in the Annual Report of the Trustee for the corresponding reporting period.

Panel members

Grassy Narrows First Nation: 2018 Field Sampling Program

The purpose of this project is to further characterize mercury levels in sediment and fish in under-sampled areas of the Grassy Narrows traditional territory. It will also improve current understanding of mercury transport, storage, bioavailability and remobilization. Samples are to be taken in the 90-kilometre section of the English and Wabigoon Rivers between the Clay Lake outfall and Lount Lake.

Approved: May 2018
Total approved budget: $1,811,736.00
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $0.00
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $1,630,397.70
Status: Ongoing

Grassy Narrows First Nation – Nearshore Riverbank Sediment and Porewater Sampling near the Dryden Mill Project

The purpose of this project is to contribute to the evaluation of whether mercury is continuing to be released from the Dryden Mill site into the Wabigoon River. This will be accomplished by sampling riverbank sediment and porewater adjacent to and downstream from the Dryden Mill site.

Approved: February 2019
Total approved budget: $444,545.00
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $44,454.00
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $355,635.50
Status: Ongoing

Grassy Narrows First Nation – Dated Core Analyses Project

The purpose of this project is to contribute to the evaluation as to whether there are ongoing sources of mercury, how much mercury is stored in different parts of the river system, the role of riparian wetlands in mercury storage and recovery, and how long it will take the river to recover naturally after any ongoing mercury sources have been controlled. Funds were provided for analysis of sediment cores that were collected in the Wabigoon River between Dryden and Clay Lake in 2018 for this purpose.

Approved: May 2019
Total approved budget: $1,206,338.83
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $877,135.82
Status: Ongoing

Grassy Narrows First Nation – 2019 Sediment, Water and Biota Sampling Program

The purpose of this project is to contribute to the evaluation of where mercury is located, how it moves through the river system, where it is being deposited and how it gets into fish and edible plants. The project is focused on areas of known elevated mercury, and areas which are currently under-characterized. This work includes sediment, water and biota sampling.

Approved: August 2019
Total approved budget: $850,000.00
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $850,000.00
Status: Ongoing

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations – 2019-2020 Field Program

A continuation of previous field work undertaken by Wabaseemoong, this project is a monitoring program of the English River within the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations Traditional Land Use Area. The project aims to further our understanding of the effects and distribution of mercury in the aquatic environment of that area. It includes water quality, sediment, fish, aquatic vegetation, benthic invertebrates and wild rice sampling, as well as the monitoring of fish movement.

Approved: May 2019
Total approved budget: $1,585,516.94
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $1,109,861.86
Status: Ongoing

Panel participants

Eagle Lake First Nation – Wetland Mercury Characterization in Eagle Lake First Nation’s Traditional Territories

The purpose of this project is to characterize mercury contamination in wetlands along the Wabigoon River from Dryden to Clay Lake. It includes sampling and analysis of sediment, water and biota from wetlands potentially impacted by mercury. The resulting observations will help to better understand the role of wetlands in mercury transport and cycling.

Approved: February 2019
Total approved budget: $565,111.31
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $230,890.84
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $474,077.67
Status: Ongoing

Wabauskang First Nation – GIS, Database Management and Research Capacity Building Project

The purpose of this project was to build technical capacity within the First Nations participating on the Panel. In 2018, two community members from each of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Eagle Lake First Nation and Wabauskang First Nation developed skills in research, mapping and building Geographic Information Systems.

Approved: July 2018
Total approved budget: $401,001.55
Funds returned in 2019/2020: $(84,499.39)
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $287,484.16
Status: Completed

In 2019, Grassy Narrows, Eagle Lake and Wabauskang First Nation trainees continued to refine their fieldwork and data management skills.

Approved: February 2019
Total approved budget: $549,549.25
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $219,819.72
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $494,594.35
Status: Ongoing

Wabauskang First Nation – Data Management Strategy Assessment Project

The purpose of this project was to assess data management needs and develop options for a long-term solution.

Approved: September 2019
Total approved budget: $22,577.09
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $18,077.09
Status: Completed

Following consideration of the assessment results, the Panel requested that Wabauskang First Nation develop a Terms of Reference outlining the requirements and cost to develop the recommended option.

Approved: December 2019
Total approved budget: $13,500.00
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $6,750.00
Status: Ongoing

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation – Wabigoon Lake Background Environmental and Water Regime Study

The purpose of this project is to determine current environmental conditions in Wabigoon Lake and its tributaries located within the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation traditional territory. The project includes sampling and analysis of sediment and surface water, information that will be used to characterize mercury concentrations in the area. A historical review of the Wabigoon Lake water regime, as well as a review of existing studies, will be undertaken to help determine sampling locations.

Approved: August 2019
Total approved budget: $181,876.58
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $163,688.92
Status: Ongoing

2. Capacity funding

In addition to allocating funds for pre-remediation activities, the Panel also provided funds to the Member and Participant First Nations to support their involvement in the work of the Panel. These funds were used for purposes including remuneration of Members and Participants who were otherwise not already remunerated for their participation on the Panel, travel expenses to attend the meetings, advisory and support services, as well as community engagement and governance.

Capacity funding is based on a calendar year. Funds are released in three installments following the approval of required documentation: at the beginning of the year following approval of the proposed budget, mid-year following approval of an interim report, and after the year’s end following approval of a final report and reconciled budget. Activities included in the following section span more than one reporting period and were either started, completed or ongoing during the 2019-2020 reporting period. For activities that have received funding in prior years, the total amounts disbursed to date has also been included.

A summary table of all capacity funding disbursed during the 2019-2020 reporting period and a summary table of accumulative disbursements for all capacity funding disbursed to March 31, 2020 are provided below. These financial summaries were developed by the Panel to provide information regarding the activities funded by the Trust for this reporting period. Audited financial statements for the Trust can be found in the Annual Report of the Trustee for the corresponding reporting period.

Panel members

Grassy Narrows First Nation – 2018 Capacity Funding

Approved: May 2018
Total approved budget: $680,044.85
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $38,924.40
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $650,964.77
Status: Completed

Grassy Narrows First Nation – 2019 Capacity Funding

Approved: November 2018
Total approved budget: $881,993.45
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $0.00
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $617,395.00
Status: Ongoing

Grassy Narrows First Nation – 2020 Capacity Funding

Approved: December 2019
Total approved budget: $968,642.05
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $678,049.44
Status: Ongoing

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations – 2019 Capacity Funding

Approved: November 2019
Total approved budget: $942,872.00
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $188,586.00
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $848,585.00
Status: Ongoing

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations – 2019 Youth Summer Camp

Approved: June 2019
Total approved budget: $127,044.25
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $116,011.98
Status: Completed

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations – 2020 Capacity Funding

Approved: December 2019
Total approved budget: $976,466.15
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $683,526.30
Status: Ongoing

Panel participants

Eagle Lake First Nation – 2019 Capacity Funding

Approved: November 2018
Total approved budget: $597,088.97
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $119,417.79
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $537,380.07
Status: Ongoing

Eagle Lake First Nation – 2020 Capacity Funding

Approved: December 2019
Total approved budget: $443,966.38
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $310,776.46
Status: Ongoing

Wabauskang First Nation – 2018 Capacity Funding

Approved: June 2018
Total approved budget: $248,822.17
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $18,633.58
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $242,573.53
Status: Completed

Wabauskang First Nation – 2018 Capacity Funding - Addendum

Approved: June 2018
Total approved budget: $17,250.00
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $3,450.00
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $17,250.00
Status: Completed

Wabauskang First Nation – 2019 Capacity Funding

Approved: November 2018
Total approved budget: $381,269.00
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $76,253.80
Total funds disbursed to March 31, 2020: $343,142.10
Status: Ongoing

Wabauskang First Nation – 2020 Capacity Funding

Approved: December 2019
Total approved budget: $284,004.44
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $198,803.10
Status: Ongoing

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation – 2019 Capacity Funding

Approved: June 2019
Total approved budget: $375,897.23
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $338,307.51
Status: Ongoing

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation – 2020 Capacity Funding

Approved: December 2019
Total approved budget: $465,600.30
Funds disbursed in 2019/2020: $325,920.21
Status: Ongoing

3. Trust disbursements 2019-2020

Summary of 2019-2020 EWRRP Disbursements - April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020
Pre-remediation Activities - Members
Members Project Name Approved Budget Funds Disbursed Status
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2018 Field Sampling $1,811,736.00 $0 Ongoing
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2019 Nearshore Riverbank Sediment and Porewater Sampling $444,545.00 $44,454.00 Ongoing
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2019 Dated Core Analysis $1,206,338.83 $877,135.82 Ongoing
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2019 Sediment, Water and Biota Sampling $850,000.00 $850,000.00 Ongoing
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2019-20 Field Program $1,585,516.94 $1,109,861.86 Ongoing
Members Total Funding   $5,898,136.77 $2,881,451.68  
Pre-remediation Activities - Participants
Participants Project Name Approved Budget Funds Disbursed Status
Eagle Lake First Nation 2018 Wetlands Mercury Characterization $565,111.31 $230,890.84 Ongoing
Wabauskang First Nation 2018 GIS, Database Management and Research Capacity Building $401,001.55 $(84,499.39) Completed
Wabauskang First Nation 2019 GIS, Database Management and Research Capacity Building $549,549.25 $219,819.72 Ongoing
Wabauskang First Nation 2019 Data Management Strategy Assessment $22,577.09 $18,077.09 Completed
Wabauskang First Nation 2019 Data Management Strategy Assessment - Addendum $13,500.00 $6,750.00 Ongoing
Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation 2019 Wabigoon Lake Background Environmental and Water Regime Study $181,876.58 $163,688.92 Ongoing
Participants Total Funding   $1,733,615.78 $554,727.18  
Capacity Funding - Members
Members Year Approved Budget Funds Disbursed Status
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2018 $680,044.85 $38,924.40 Completed
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2019 $881,993.45 $0 Ongoing
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2020 $968,642.05 $678,049.44 Ongoing
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2019 $942,872.00 $188,586.00 Ongoing
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2019 Youth Summer Camp $127,044.25 $116,011.98 Completed
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2020 $976,466.15 $683,526.30 Ongoing
Members Total Funding   $4,577,062.75 $1,705,098.12  
Capacity Funding - Participants
Participants Year Approved Budget Funds Disbursed Status
Eagle Lake First Nation 2019 $597,088.97 $119,417.79 Ongoing
Eagle Lake First Nation 2020 $443,966.38 $310,776.46 Ongoing
Wabauskang First Nation 2018 $248,822.17 $18,633.58 Completed
Wabauskang First Nation 2018 Addendum $17,250.00 $3,450.00 Completed
Wabauskang First Nation 2019 $381,269.00 $76,253.80 Ongoing
Wabauskang First Nation 2020 $284,004.44 $198,803.10 Ongoing
Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation 2019 $375,897.23 $338,307.51 Ongoing
Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation 2020 $465,600.30 $325,920.21 Ongoing
Participants Total Funding   $2,813,898.49 $1,391,562.45  
Pre-remediation Funding + Capacity Funding
Category Approved Budget Funds Disbursed
Total Pre-remediation Funding $7,631,752.55 $3,436,178.86
Total Capacity Funding $7,390,961.24 $3,096,660.57
Total Funding $15,022,713.79 $6,532,839.43

4. Trust disbursements accumulative

Summary of EWRRP Accumulative Disbursements To March 31, 2020
Pre-remediation Activities - Members
Members Project Name Funds Disbursed
2018-2019
Funds Disbursed
2019-2020
Funds Disbursed
To March 31, 2020
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2018 Field Sampling $1,630,397.70 n/a $1,630,397.70
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2019 Nearshore Riverbank Sediment and Porewater Sampling $311,181.50 $44,454.00 $355,635.50
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2019 Dated Core Analysis n/a $877,135.82 $877,135.82
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2019 Sediment, Water and Biota Sampling n/a $850,000.00 $850,000.00
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2019-20 Field Program n/a $1,109,861.86 $1,109,861.86
Members Total Funding   $1,941,579.20 $2,881,451.68 $4,823,030.88
Pre-remediation Activities - Participants
Participants Project Name Funds Disbursed
2018-2019
Funds Disbursed
2019-2020
Funds Disbursed
To March 31, 2020
Eagle Lake First Nation 2018 Wetlands Mercury Characterization $243,186.83 $230,890.84 $474,077.67
Wabauskang First Nation 2018 GIS, Database Management and Research Capacity Building $371,983.55 $(84,499.39) $287,484.16
Wabauskang First Nation 2019 GIS, Database Management and Research Capacity Building $274,774.63 $219,819.72 $494,594.35
Wabauskang First Nation 2019 Data Management Strategy Assessment n/a $18,077.09 $18,077.09
Wabauskang First Nation 2019 Data Management Strategy Assessment - Addendum n/a $6,750.00 $6,750.00
Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation 2019 Wabigoon Lake Background Environmental and Water Regime Study n/a $163,688.92 $163,688.92
Participants Total Funding   $889,945.01 $554,727.18 $1,444,672.19
Capacity Funding - Members
Members Project Name Funds Disbursed
2018-2019
Funds Disbursed
2019-2020
Funds Disbursed
To March 31, 2020
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2018 $612,040.37 $38,924.40 $650,964.77
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2019 $617,395.00 n/a $617,395.00
Grassy Narrows First Nation 2020 n/a $678,049.44 $678,049.44
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2018 $557,950.76 n/a $557,950.76
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2018 Youth Summer Camp $107,322.75 n/a $107,322.75
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2019 $659,999.00 $188,586.00 $848,585.00
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2019 Youth Summer Camp n/a $116,011.98 $116,011.98
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations 2020 n/a $683,526.30 $683,526.30
Members Total Funding   $2,554,707.88 $1,705,098.12 $4,259,806.00
Capacity Funding - Participants
Participants Project Name Funds Disbursed
2018-2019
Funds Disbursed
2019-2020
Funds Disbursed
To March 31, 2020
Eagle Lake First Nation 2018 $286,601.94 n/a $286,601.94
Eagle Lake First Nation 2019 $417,962.28 $119,417.79 $537,380.07
Eagle Lake First Nation 2020 n/a $310,776.46 $310,776.46
Wabauskang First Nation 2018 $223,939.95 $18,633.58 $242,573.53
Wabauskang First Nation 2018 Addendum $13,800.00 $3,450.00 $17,250.00
Wabauskang First Nation 2019 $266,888.30 $76,253.80 $343,142.10
Wabauskang First Nation 2020 n/a $198,803.10 $198,803.10
Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation 2019 n/a $338,307.51 $338,307.51
Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation 2020 n/a $325,920.21 $325,920.21
Participants Total Funding   $1,209,192.47 $1,391,562.45 $2,600,754.92
Pre-remediation Funding + Capacity Funding
Category 2018-2019 2019-2020 2020
Total Pre-remediation Funding $2,831,524.21 $3,436,178.86 $6,267,703.07
Total Capacity Funding $3,763,900.35 $3,096,660.57 $6,860,560.92
Project Totals $6,595,424.56 $6,532,839.43 $13,128,263.99

Balance of funds remaining in the Trust as of March 31, 2020

The balance of funds in the Trust as of March 31, 2020 was $74,757,872.71 (compared to $79,805,814.44 on March 31, 2019). As of March 31, 2020, the Panel approved, but has not yet disbursed, funding for ongoing pre-remediation activities totalling $1,246,032.09 and for capacity funding totalling $1,435,914.78.

Forecast of the expenditures from the Trust for the five-year period beginning April 1, 2020

During this reporting period, the Panel continued funding pre-remediation projects aimed at characterizing mercury contamination in the English and Wabigoon Rivers system. Given the early stage of the project, it is not possible to provide an accurate forecast of expenditures from the Trust for the following five-year period at this time.

The Panel does, however, forecast that a range of $20-$40 million will be required in the next three years to continue the characterization of mercury in the river system and to assess options. This forecast also reflects the funds required for Panel operations. It is anticipated that significant additional funds will be required if remediation activities are commenced in the next five years. The Panel expects that it will be better able to forecast future expenditures once characterization efforts are complete and remediation planning is underway.

Recommendation of whether additional funds will be required to fund the Trust and in what amount

Given the early stage of the project, the Panel does not have a recommendation on any additional funds that will be required to fund the Trust. Remediation professionals have advised that projects of this scale often require more funds than the current Trust balance provides.

Description of how the activities funded by the Trust have contributed to the remediation of the English and Wabigoon Rivers

The activities funded by the Panel during this reporting period focused largely on continued assessment of water, sediment, fish and other biota, wetlands and plants, such as wild rice. These efforts are filling in data gaps and enhancing the current understanding of how mercury behaves in the English and Wabigoon River system. The resulting information will be required in the development and implementation of a remediation plan.

Funding was also provided to each of Member and Participant First Nation to support their involvement in the work of the Panel, as well as for the engagement of their governments and communities.

Vetting proposals, prioritizing funds and involving the participating First Nation communities are key components of the Panel’s work and of remediating the river system. Thanks to the important contributions of each represented government, the Panel has begun to address the historic contamination of the English and Wabigoon Rivers.

Updated: July 15, 2021
Published: June 04, 2020