01/25/2015 02:51 EST | Updated 03/27/2015 05:59 EDT

New hope for clean water at Shoal Lake 40 First Nation

Winnipeg is helping to fund a winter road to Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the Ontario community that provides the city with drinking water.

It's part of the response to protests held this year by the First Nation about its own lack of access to safe drinking water.

When the infrastructure was built to take water from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg a century ago, the community was cut off from the mainland by flooding.

The lack of road access makes a water treatment plant costly. Shoal Lake has been without potable tap water for more than a decade.

"We have people on this end of pipe that are looking for the basic human right to life -- clean water access," said Chief Erwin Redsky.

This winter, the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba are helping fund a winter road across the lake to the First Nation. They're also working with the community on plans for a road that can be accessed year round.

"We're looking forward to working together on Freedom Road," said Kevin Chief, Manitoba's Minister responsible for the City of Winnipeg.

But the federal government will need to help with the $30-million project and so far they haven't made any commitments.

"It's never been an engineering problem," said Chief Redsky. "It's been a political problem."