It’s April 2035. The sun is beaming down on a bustling port in Manitoba’s far north at Latitude 57, not that far from the mouths of the famous rivers, the Nelson and the Hayes. These rivers opened up the northern part of the North American continent more than four centuries ago.

It was a silent land then, sparsely populated by people but rich in furs and well sustained by the local Indigenous folks who lived in harmony with the land as it was then.

Now, life has changed. The planet’s population has become one and local trading is worldwide. Shipping is a vibrant activity as man expands across the seven seas and even into space. The new port is aptly called Port NeeStaNan, “all of us”, named for the utility corridor the First Nations communities created and built over the previous decade.


The new town


The townsite supporting the port is a polyglot of people from all over. Cree and other languages can be heard as you walk down the well ploughed streets. There is still snow on the ground – it is only April, after all. There is much construction – the port is still growing, but subdivisions have already sprung up around the edges of downtown as local people leave reserves and come to a place where there are well paying jobs and new modern housing that families can legally own. And they can aspire to ownership now because the cost of heating those homes has dipped exponentially. No longer does 50 percent of their winter income go into heating bills. They can now access petroleum products at very low rates, and some are even looking forward to heating with hydrogen once the plant up the coast goes into production in a year or so.

Downtown is becoming a shopper’s dream as goods flow in from all over. There is nothing you can buy in Winnipeg that you cannot buy here first – and at lower prices. This is all part of the standard agreement signed with importers that all goods will include a wholesale residual for NeeStaNan merchants to sell locally. They expect a lot of traffic from the tourist crowd that starts showing up in Churchill early in the summer. Churchill is only a couple of hundred clicks up the coast and Wally Daudrich and his Lazy Bear Excursions are already planning weekly trips to the new port on his brand-new ocean cruiser.

The population is young and vibrant with their kids growing up with the town. There is a new school for K to 13 and the University College of the North is expected to accept classes in the next few years as the eligible population grows. A hospital opened in 2032.


Business is coming from all over


All this activity is fueled by exports flowing from across Canada and now even up from the northern United States as exporters seek closer access to markets. NeeStaNan Rail is constantly busy and there is talk of twinning the line to accommodate the increased traffic. Right now, the train delivers heavy loads of mineral deposits from the mining industry in northern Manitoba as well as potash and machinery from Saskatchewan, and various petroleum products from Alberta, which is planning to build a pipeline along the NeeStaNan right of way in order to respond to the new mandate from the latest COP meeting that has decided the best way to reduce carbon emissions is to help countries reduce their reliance on burning coal and particulate matter by sending them LNG.


The Port is modern and bustling with activity


Port Neestanan is a deep-sea port, capable of handling the largest ships plying the oceans. It is not like the old days where ships pulled up to shore. Port Neestanan uses the same technology as other northern ports. Ships are loaded in deep water via wharf extensions and other technology. Ironically, a deepwater manmade island five miles offshore mimics the attempts to create the port back in the early 1900s. In addition, an undersea pipeline is being constructed to transport LNG to tanker ships.

Leaders from Fox Lake Cree Nation and York Factory First Nation, which were part of the development of the line and the port, have drawn out talent both from home and from other communities as folks see the opportunities and get excited about the future.

Local Indigenous communities, even those more isolated ones such as Shamattawa, are seeing an end to addiction problems as kids can get off the reserves and find real jobs that promise a future. There is much healing to be done but progress is being made towards reconciliation as people learn to respect and enjoy each other and their differences.


The benefits have spread down south


Down in Winnipeg CentrePort has grown exponentially. In town, street renewal has eliminated potholes. The drug plague of the 20’s has been addressed with a network of treatment facilities. The homeless have housing in tiny homes that they can buy at rates that match their incomes. Everyone has a job. There is so much activity thanks to the $60 billion in income NeeStaNan is generating for the province that welfare, while available at much higher rates than previously, has become a last choice option. Manitoba has regained its reputation as a world leader in medicine and there are no waiting lists for surgeries.

Southern Manitoba is gratefully taking up the overflow of population as newcomers flock to Manitoba. The creative people of the farmlands are developing new technologies for food production as well as the machinery to plant and harvest it and jobs are plentiful.

In the mid north, The Pas, Flin Flon, Snow Lake and Thompson all have new life thanks to the demand for critical minerals and Manitoba’s ability to get the product out to market.

And Churchill? It has become the prettiest townsite in the country, living up to the early promises of its city planner. The harbour is filled with cruise ships all summer with visitors from all over the world sailing the northwest passage and making a trip to see belugas and maybe see some polar bears in the open bay, a key part of the journey. For inlanders, the Arctic Gateway rail line has become a must-do as Via Rail has upgraded its railway cars to provide a first-class experience.

The future is filled with more good things as the Neestanan utility corridor continues to build dedicated railroads in Saskatchewan and Alberta, adding more access to the northern line, easy connection to Port NeeStaNan and from there to the world!

Ah yes, we’re dreaming, but nothing happens without dreams followed by action. Let’s make this dream a reality, Manitoba. We can do it!