The Trout Lake River has since time before memory been out travel route to and from Lac Seul and other places south. That river system is still a travel route. The river is full of wild rice fields, medicines, and other relations who thrive in the interdependence of this water system. The Trout Lake River meets with the Chukuni River and both then flow into the English River. Downstream of the English River are two communities, Grassy Narrows First Nation and Wabaseemoong First Nation. These two communities have already been devastated by the presence of methyl-mercury in the water and in their local food sources. I am sure that you are aware of their ongoing efforts to have the river cleaned up and for their people to be given proper medical care for having been poisoned by this polluted river.
You will find all the submissions made by ORA and our members here.
In May of 2013 the Ontario Rivers Alliance made a Part II Order request on the proposed Trout Lake River Hydroelectric Generating Station, at Big Falls, in the Red Lake area. This proposal seemed to die a natural death with no decision on our Part II request, or activity/movement forward on the project. Here we are now more than 7 years later, and last week we received the correspondence below from the MECP stating that
“As part of our government’s efforts to boost Ontario’s economic recovery after COVID- 19, we have passed the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, including amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act.
The changes to the Environmental Assessment Act will allow us to build a strong environmental assessment program that effectively considers the input of local communities and focuses on projects that have the highest impact to the environment. The Act will continue to consider “the protection, conservation and wise management in Ontario of the environment”. A key change made to the Environmental Assessment Act was to limit Part II Order requests to potential adverse impacts of projects to constitutionally protected Aboriginal or treaty rights. All Part II Order requests that were under review which do not pertain to potential adverse impacts on constitutionally protected Aboriginal or treaty rights have been terminated by the amendments.”
The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act was passed earlier this year, and this legislative amendment is retroactive in its backwards reach to 2013. In spite of the government’s misleading claim that the changes to the EAA “will allow us to build a strong environmental assessment program”, it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there is now no mechanism to request a more rigorous environmental assessment, and public consultation and consideration on these risky projects, as well as the ability to make a Part II Order request, is no longer a possibility. There was also no public or Indigenous consultation before the passing of the Economic Recovery Act.
River story goes back, way back, hundreds of years, thousands of years. Creator gives the river her original instructions so the river would always know its way, its seasonal changes, its rights and responsibilities, its roles and relationships, its joys, its movement and its obligations. All its relations — the two and the four-leggeds, the swimmers, the fliers, the crawlers — all know and love the river and revel in their relationship with her. Generation after generation of human travelers made their marks on the river story, entwined with all the other stories. Continue reading
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
Autumn at Big Falls – Trout Lake River
This is Big Falls – a beautiful stretch of rapids and falls located on Trout Lake River. This is a sacred place that holds many precious memories for the NamekosipiiwAnishinaapek First Nation community. They have had no say in whether this site will be destroyed and replaced with a hydroelectric dam – at least if Horizon Hydro Operations has their way. Horizon is proposing a 3 to 4 MW run-of-river hydroelectric dam, with an 18.8 metre head, and 1.7 km headpond that will encompass 15.5 hectares. This would feed hydro to approximately 1500 people – on a good day.
The Experimental Lakes Area has studied the impact of newly inundated headponds and discovered that methylmercury can increase by 10 to 20 times. Mercury can become elevated in fish tissue, and result in fish consumption restrictions. That is not good for First Nations when fish is a main staple in their diets. Does this sound like “Green Energy”? If you agree that Big Falls should not be developed, then please write the Honourable Kathleen Wynne to let her know this is a bad idea – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download (PDF, 126KB)
Download (PDF, 669KB)
Download ORA Part II Order Request
Download Olsen Part II Order Request
After having carefully reviewed the information as presented, and in consideration of the lack of due diligence to properly consult with and resolve the issues of the Trout Lake Community, as well as the potential health and safety risks to First Nation communities, ORA is requesting a Part II Order be issued to elevate this proposal to an Individual Environmental Assessment.