Below is a presentation made to the Ontario Rivers Alliance at their Annual General Meeting on 23 November 2013. Check out the notes below as well.
This document is a collection of events and recent developments related to the re-introduction of Lake Sturgeon in the Upper Reach of the Mattagami River near Timmins Ontario.
It was back in 2002 that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources approached Club Navigateur La Ronde and the Timmins Fur Council to be partners on a project to re-establish lake sturgeon population in the upper reach of the Mattagami River near Timmins Ontario. In the Lands and Forest archives of the early 1900s were records of sturgeon spawning activity observed at Wawaitin Falls by a conservation officer of those early years of the Porcupine mining camp. Log drives, dam construction and subsequent operation combined with fisheries led to population drops to unsustainable levels. Continue reading
The City of Greater Sudbury is proposing to decommission the Lively Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and upgrade the Walden WWTP. Vermilion River Stewardship (VRS) has requested tertiary treatment, which is a third means of effluent treatment, to improve water quality on the lower Junction Creek, Simon Lake, McCharles Lake, and the lower Vermilion River. VRS is making a request to the Minister of Environment to issue a Part II Order to elevate this proposal to an Individual Environmental Assessment. See attached letter.
Excerpt: “This project has not been planned in an environmentally responsible manner, and has not fully taken into account the interests of local stakeholders and the public. Therefore, it is our position that for all the reasons noted herein, Xeneca has not fulfilled its requirements under the Class EA for Waterpower.”
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
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.
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.
1. MNR conducted an initial survey (actually, Hatch did it) of the rivers in Ontario that may have areas where water power could be harnessed and developed. Question: What gave MNR that right when they did no consultation with FN’s of this survey? What gave them the right to put up for auction these sites, three of which are on the Trout Lake River? That is not acceptable and MNR has to be held accountable for deviating from normal FN consultation protocol, even if it was before any such “agreements” were made.
2. The view of our cultural heritage is very narrow, keeping it to physical artifacts such as pottery sherds and arrowheads. This is unacceptable. The stories of our ancestors are all along the river, at each falls and rapids, each lake and bend in the river, every camp site.
3. The name of the project is an appropriation of the name of our home place. It is no more a Trout Lake Hydro project than Niagara Falls is. When will revenue info be available? We are at a disadvantage if we do not have that information.
4. The Trout Lake people are descendants of signatories to Treaty #3. Namekosipiiw-Anishinaapek, of all people, should be consulted and their consent required in order for the dam to be built. The Trout Lake people should be treated as a community, as much as Lac Seul, Wabauskang and Grassy Narrows are. (MNR personnel have common knowledge that the Trout Lake people should have a reserve, but pretend that we don’t.)
5. The woman’s role and responsibility as water-keepers is a moral and ethical authority that has to be recognized and acknowledged by white people in general, by the state in particular, especially Ontario. As keepers of the water, Anishinaape women are stepping up and advocating for the water. This is huge and important responsibility.
6. The Trout Lake Anishinaape people are continually being told that it is the legal authority of the land that is relevant. We hold that moral responsibilities, as identified in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, hold just as much, if not more, authority in all human story.
7. The trees around the river have already been cut down and taken away. Why can’t they leave the water alone?
8. The personal reasons are varied and many, posts will appear as this work progresses.
Harper seals our fate on water and energy sustainability
The federal government states that Fisheries and Oceans Canada no longer need to do this type of research. And yet when we look at the research being conducted at the ELA, the scientific data is sorely needed for a sustainable energy strategy.
One ELA study assesses the effects of hydroelectric development. Hydroelectric dams are often touted as a ‘clean’ energy solution. However, the ELA study raises questions about whether hydroelectric dams have similar impacts as burning fossil fuels.
“There’s a new idea around that reservoirs may be significant sources of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. And we want to test that idea, ”says Drew Bodaly, Research Scientist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in this Experimental Lakes video (see below). Continue reading
An Ella Lake resident has just reported that the Blue-green Algae bloom is still persisting. So all local residents, cottagers and fishermen should continue to refrain from drinking, boiling, or using the water for the sauna.
Dr. Andrea Kirkwood, Faculty of Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology has taken a special interest in our winter outbreak, and has offered to examine a sample to determine the strain of blue-green algae present in Ella Lake.
Vermilion River Stewardship and the Beaver Lake Sports and Cultural Club are very concerned about public safety, and have requested signage warning of the blue-green algae to be posted at Ella Lake and Wabagishik Lake boat launches. Continue reading