Save Big Falls – Trout Lake River
September 25, 2013
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier,
Room 281, Main Legislative Building,
Re: Plans of Horizon Inc. to build a dam across our traditional migratory route, Trout Lake River, at Big Falls
Dear Ms Wynne:
I am from Namekosipiink, Trout Lake, Ontario, and am a descendant of signatories to Treaty #3. My ancestors, along with the Lac Seul and Sturgeon people, signed the adhesion to the treaty in June 1874. The NamekosipiiwAnishinaape community is the most northerly community of Treaty #3. When the surveyors came to mark out the reservation boundaries, it late in the fall and decided not to go any further north than Lac Seul. They never came back and thus we never did get a reserve. However, we are still a community, even thought we are dispersed all across this great Turtle Island.
Neither the Ministry of Natural Resources nor the Horizon company consulted with us in any meaningful way. They said that we did not fit the legal definition of a community as defined by the Indian Act. We have opposed the building of the dam because we still use the same migration route that our ancestors used for hundreds and hundreds of years. The river is a place of traditional education and camping and recreation. The Falls themselves are of huge cultural significance to us. The land around is sacred to us, we have ceremonies there. We have made an Order II request to the Ministry of the Environment and we have not yet received a response from them. While we await their response, we are continuing work with a petition in opposition to the dam and we invite you to learn more about our situation.
The following are some quotes from letters written by our people. Their eloquence and passion are moving. Continue reading
March 1, 2013
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Dear Premier Wynne,
We, the undersigned, are writing to express our deep concern about proposed exemptions to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) and to request that your government not proceed with these changes. The proposed exemptions would severely weaken the ESA’s current standard of protection and undermine the government’s ability to monitor and control activities that harm threatened and endangered species and their habitats.
The Liberal government passed the ESA in 2007 with overwhelming public support. Celebrated nationally and internationally by scientists and the environmental community as a gold standard in species at risk legislation, it greatly enhanced the government’s credibility as a green leader. The ESA is intended to facilitate species recovery through mandatory protection for threatened and endangered species and their habitats. At the same time, however, it provides flexibility for economic development by allowing for permits that authorize otherwise prohibited activities, contingent upon the achievement of an overall benefit for the species.
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ORA would like to express our concern over the appointment of Arnold Chan, Vice President, Aboriginal Affairs and General Counsel for Xeneca Power Development Inc. (Xeneca) to your Transition Team. Xeneca is currently awaiting the disposition of 33 waterpower proposals which are moving through the approvals process, 19 of which are pending completion of the Environmental Assessment (EA) process, and the remaining 14 awaiting Electrical Transmission Connection approval. While Mr. Chan undoubtedly has valuable experience in government, his position with a company that is currently highly dependent on government approvals raises our concern.
Our concerns are well founded as Xeneca has earned a reputation amongst stakeholders, First Nations, Ministry of Environment, and Ministry of Natural Resources staff of causing a lot of problems while trying to fast track through the EA process, and for not meeting its requirements under the Class EA. Arnold Chan’s appointment to your advisory team provides an opportunity to advance self-interests, and has the potential to undermine your attempts to build public confidence in the fairness and wisdom of this government’s decisions. ORA objects to Mr. Chan’s appointment, and requests that it be cancelled. At the very least his duties on your transition team must not include advice on issues that affect his business interests in the waterpower industry – although this will not remove the perception of a potential conflict of interest.
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