My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples.
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Canada's duty to consult Indigenous Nations ... cont'd ...

Peace News

Dr. Jim Harding - October 11, 2010 - Southern Saskatchewan individuals and groups involved in the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan met at Fort Qu'Appelle Oct. 8-10th to discuss what to do about Saskatchewan being targeted as a nuclear waste dump. People came from Moose Jaw, Regina, Cupar, Indian Head, Archerwill and Fort Qu'Appelle, from Coalition member groups like Kairos, Council of Canadians, Greens and Clean Green Regina. They agreed with the following points which will be taken to other Coalition members:

1. The Duty To Consult Can't Involve Economic Bribery.
The industry-based Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has confirmed that two of the four Canadian communities that it is talking to about becoming a nuclear dump are in northern Saskatchewan:  at Pinehouse and English River. The other two are in northwestern Ontario, much closer to the nuclear power plants along the Great lakes that produce almost all of the nuclear waste in Canada.

Speaking for the English River band, Councillor Bernie Eaglechild said that “nothing has been decided and talks are still at an early stage”, emphasizing that “the band can still back out at any time.” Pinehouse mayor, Mike Natomagan, who also heads the Kineepik Métis Local, had a similar message; that this “learn more opportunity does not commit the village or Métis local to any further steps.” This doesn’t mean “Pinehouse has said ‘yes’ to the project”.
But can negotiating with the NWMO lead to informed consent.  Under both international law and Canada’s Charter of Rights the “Duty to Consult” means there must be “free, prior and informed consent.” The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples makes it clear that this can’t involve monetary inducements such as the NWMO is using. Informed consent requires sufficient time to consider all relevant information, from all sides of the controversy, and not being bribed under the threat of losing benefits to another community.

And we know that northern communities are being bribed to take nuclear wastes. In November 2009 the NWMO met privately with all the Environmental Quality Committees (EQC) across the north. In its 2009 Report the government-run North Saskatchewan Environmental Quality Committee (NSEQC) said that the NWMO made “communities aware of the opportunities to host a nuclear waste management storage site.” It continued, “There will be incredible economic benefits to such a community, but suitable geology and accessibility are also factors.” Such bribery is outrageous and must be stopped.

The neo-colonial situation surrounding the uranium industry in the north will not and cannot encourage informed consent. Since 1991 Cameco has supported importing Ontario’s nuclear waste, including from its co-owned Bruce Power nuclear complex. It sees this as a lucrative business venture. It is now concentrating toxic, radioactive uranium tailings at its huge Key Lake mine site, and having Pinehouse, south of Key Lake, as a nuclear waste dump would fit in with a nuclear industry waste corridor in north central Saskatchewan.  Prince Albert and La Ronge would become the gateway to nuclear wastes, not a gateway to northern fishing, hunting and eco-tourism.

2. Saskatchewan Is Not Morally Obliged To Take Nuclear Wastes
A few people argue that we are morally obliged to take back nuclear wastes from nuclear plants that use uranium from Saskatchewan. This is absurd and would lead us to become an international nuclear dump for the U.S., France, Japan and many other countries that buy uranium from here. Also, Ontario should be responsible for its own nuclear wastes and should have had a nuclear waste plan before it built all its nuclear power plants. Furthermore, after the UDP consultations, the Saskatchewan government decided not to support Bruce Power’s proposal to build nuclear plants along the North Saskatchewan River. One of the main reasons Saskatchewan people opposed nuclear power was because they did not want to create nuclear wastes.

3. A Nuclear Dump Is No Path To Northern Development
So why are these northern communities even considering a nuclear dump? English River’s Councillor Eaglechild says “the band is tired of seeing resources hauled out of its traditional land without receiving any payments for it”, and Pinehouse’s Mayor Natomagan notes the recent Conference Board study showing northern Saskatchewan having the second lowest median income of any Canadian region.  This concern about the wealth of resource development not being shared with the north is compelling and, along with the cumulative ecological effects of uranium mine expansion, was the main reason why the Joint Federal Provincial Panel in the 1990s recommended against two uranium mines going ahead. But a nuclear dump makes no economic sense compared with much cheaper sustainable options such as adding value to the renewable sectors in the north. Creating a deep geological repository to store nuclear wastes would be even more capital-intensive than uranium mining. And the Conference Board study that Pinehouse’s mayor refers to, confirms that the north remained amongst Canada’s poorest regions, even though it has been the highest uranium-producing and most profitable uranium mining region in the world.

4. All of Saskatchewan Must Be Involved in Decision
The question we should be asking is: “why these northern Métis and First Nations communities are so hard-pressed that they have to consider bringing deadly radioactive wastes into the north to create a few toxic jobs”? An even more fundamental question is:  “why the NWMO is able to end-run the people of Saskatchewan and negotiate the location of a nuclear dump in the province solely with a northern Métis or First Nations community?” Why are the rest of us being left out of the process?

5. Saskatchewan Should Pass Ban On Transportation and Storage of Nuclear Wastes
In 1987, the NDP government of Manitoba acted to protect the long-term public and environmental health of its people by legislating a ban on the importation and storage of nuclear wastes. Quebec did the same thing in 2008. Do Saskatchewan people deserve anything less?

Just why is the Wall-led government allowing the industry’s NWMO to travel around the North and privately negotiate the location of a nuclear dump that will affect people throughout the whole province? At the 2009 NDP convention, held just after Lingenfelter was elected as party leader, the delegates passed a resolution that an NDP government will not consider “storing nuclear wastes under any circumstances.” This resolution was co-sponsored by Regina’s Douglas Park constituency which later elected Lingenfelter as an MLA. So when will the NDP opposition and its leader start standing up for the rights of Saskatchewan people on this matter? Have provincial politics become so personal and vindictive that vital matters of ecology and justice aren’t worth the effort?

The Wall government’s own 2009 public consultations on the Uranium Development Partnership (UDP) found that, of the thousands who participated, over 80% opposed bringing nuclear wastes to the province. At its last provincial conference the United Church passed a resolution calling for a ban on nuclear wastes in the province. This public opinion, including coming from what the government itself called the most extensive public consultations ever held on the nuclear industry in Saskatchewan, must be respected. We now need a provincial ban on transporting and storing nuclear wastes. It is the right thing to do!

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 Canada's duty to consult Indigenous Nations ... cont'd ...

MCA against shipment


Updated 9 days ago

Photo by Bruce PowerBruce Power plans to ship 16 generators used at its nuclear plant through the Great Lakes and Seaway on its way to Sweden, where it will be recycled. A number of groups, including the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne have voiced their opposition to the proposal.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will set a dangerous precedent if it allows radioactive waste to be shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway, according to groups based along the waterway.

Bruce Power, which sits on Lake Huron, has asked for a permit to bring 16 generators used at its nuclear plant through the Great Lakes and Seaway on its way to Sweden, where it will be recycled.
But the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) said it was not even consulted on the plan that would break a local bylaw."There is a duty to consult," said Henry Lickers, environmental science officer for the MCA. "If they wanted to do this right, they would have talked to us."
However, all the discussion in the world wouldn't change a resolution passed by the council in 1999, stating that no nuclear materials are allowed in their territory, he pointed out.

"It's just in keeping with the MCA and what we've done in the past," said Lickers about their opposition, which was detailed in a letter to the nuclear safety commission (CNSC).

"Your government will be in violation of our community law if you allow this shipment to enter into our territory," wrote Grand Chief Mike Mitchell.
The CNSC held consultations to determine if the transportation permit should be approved, and has promised the shipment is not dangerous.

"The chances of a spill or anything are terribly remote," said Guy Lauzon, MP for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry. "They've done analyses. There's no risk to the public or the environment."

While that may be true, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative -which includes Mayor Bob Kilger in its membership -have come out strongly against the idea.

Though Kilger said he hasn't personally lobbied the commission, the group has sent a letter to the CNSC, along with four pages of questions about the proposal on everything from timelines to qualifications for the ship's pilot.

"I am disappointed that the CNSC has refused to discuss or provide the underlying technical report on the environmental impacts of an accident on the Great Lakes or the St. Lawrence," wrote David Ullrich, executive director of the municipal coalition.

Beyond environmental concerns, Lickers said it just makes sense for the government to develop the capacity to deal with its own nuclear waste rather than shipping it across the ocean.

"Canada should be solving its own problems in its own backyard," he said.
Part of his concern is that Sweden may have more relaxed regulations on what is considered dangerous material.

"The (recycled) steel will go back into the steel source, and we could be getting it back as Ikea furniture," he said.

"I think it's good public policy that if we use it... we should be able to deal with it," added Kilger.

But Lauzon said nations all across the globe send their waste to Sweden because of their expertise. Even this shipment wouldn't be the first time Canada sent materials to the country.

"It should be noted that radioactive materials... are shipped across Canada and around the world on a regular basis without risk to the public or the environment," states the commission on its website.

CNSC spokesperson Aurele Gervais said decisions on permits are generally made 30 days after public consultations, which were held at the end of September on the Bruce Power proposal.

"They will consider information heard through the course of the public hearing," said Gervais. "During their deliberations they will determine if further information is needed or if the commission is ready to proceed with a decision."

Despite reassurances that every danger will be analyzed, Kilger said under no conditions would he accept the shipment through the Seaway, since the lakes and river system "provides potable water for over 40 million people. You just can't take that risk."

"The Seaway is such a crucial part of our Akwesasne and surrounding neighbours," added Lickers. "We can't really afford any problems here. Our experience is a long and painful one (of ) contamination by different industries here."

Canada's 'Duty to consult' Indigenous Nations cont'd ...

Open letter to Elliot Lake mayoral candidates from SRFN chief

Letters To The Editor

On behalf of Serpent River First Nation council and citizens, I send you greetings and trust that you are working diligently to win the confidence of the citizens of Elliott Lake so they will put their support behind your respective visions for Elliot Lake. We wish you both luck and commend you for your efforts to make Elliott Lake a good place to flourish and prosper.

As elected chief of the Serpent River First Nation, I know the experiences that you aspire to cultivate in leadership are those only public service brings. Regardless of our political stripes, we all serve for a similar reason – to ensure that our citizens are provided with effective representation and the highest quality of life possible.

As you know, the Serpent River First Nation is not just a neighbouring community to Elliot Lake. The region where the city is located is integral to our traditional territory and we have strong historical, geographical, harvesting, cultural and spiritual ties to Elliot Lake. Since time immemorial prior to contact, we walked these lands - the land owned our people. Today, our existing Aboriginal and treaty rights are recognized and affirmed in section 35 of Canada's constitution.

When we set our fishing nets in Elliot and Dunlop lakes on Oct. 1, 2009, we were not protesting. We wanted to show our neighbours of our rightful access and jurisdiction to Crown lands. We also know that the issue of colliding interests must be reconciled. Serpent River First Nation is now asking the question - where does the Elliot Lake leadership stand on the need for First Nation dialogue on plans to assert further access for First Nation benefit and gain?

The Supreme Court of Canada has consistently reaffirmed that both, federal and provincial governments have a legal duty to consult with us and provide accommodation regarding our Aboriginal and treaty rights. Since Elliot Lake is a creation of the province of Ontario, Elliot Lake must recognize, respect that First Nation rights and interests must be accommodated before new developments can proceed. Ontario is currently at the table - Elliot Lake leadership should now start asking questions.

Given the importance of the outcome of this election for all of us, I want to invite you both to a public town hall discussion about how you, as mayor, would like Elliot Lake to work with us - essentially to meet issues head-on with the goal of collaborative policy questions and proposed outcomes.
For example, where can a successful joint relations committee take our communities? What is your intent to ensure that Crown resources serve the economic interests of both Serpent River First Nation and the City of Elliot Lake? What might be the best options for the First Peoples of the Serpent River headlands and the City of Elliot Lake in proceeding with a broad heritage study that seeks to establish protection status of sites and routes of the original people in and around Elliot Lake? I want to discuss the City of Elliot Lake's plans regarding the cottage lot program and the potential legal challenges to the Elliot Lake Act.

In closing, I believe that it is in the best interests of both of our communities and citizens that we have a public dialogue about how we intend to move forward as friends and neighbours in a mutually beneficial, peaceful and prosperous co-existence – in the true spirit and intent of our Robinson Huron Treaty, 1850. I look forward to your timely response.

Isadore Day,
Chief of the Serpent River First Nation
My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Two Row Wampum Treaty

Two Row Wampum Treaty
"It is said that, each nation shall stay in their own vessels, and travel the river side by side. Further, it is said, that neither nation will try to steer the vessel of the other." This is a treaty among Indigenous Nations, and with Canada. This is the true nature of our relationships with Indigenous Nations of 'Kanata'.