Mohawk environmentalist plans a walk to save the water

Posted by Douglas Glynn Midland Free Press

A Mohawk environmentalist is planning to walk from Tiny Township to Queen’s Park to deliver a message to Premier Dalton McGuinty about Site 41.

What McGuinty is doing, says Danny Beaton, a Mohawk with roots in the Six Nations, is “allowing the potential destruction of one of most pristine water supplies in Ontario” -the Alliston aquifer, which runs beneath the proposed Site 41 landfill in Tiny Township.

In a bid to draw attention to the issue, Beaton plans to start a seven-day “walk for the water” from Tiny Township to Queen’s Park on Nov. 14. He will be accompanied by Steve Ogden, a member of the Site 41 monitoring committee.

He also expects to be joined for part of the walk by local politicians, MPP Garfield Dunlop and members of the Metis Women’s Council.

In June, Beaton completed a similar 100-mile walk through Georgia, beginning at the source of the Chattahoochee River and ending in front of the Georgia Capitol building in Atlanta. That walk was led by Robertjohn Knapp to raise awareness of the need to care for the environment.

A writer and filmmaker, Beaton has been active in the Native cultural and arts scene for many years. He was the a principal organizer of Project Indigenous Restoration in 1992, which featured elders, artists and healers from across Canada, the United States and South America.

He has produced and directed four nationally-broadcast films that feature indigenous spiritual elders voicing their concerns for the need of society to return to spiritual values and the protection of “Mother Earth.”

Beaton describes the walk “as a prayer and song to our Mother the Earth, whose blood is the water.” He said the walk will pass by Site 41 and stop the first day to conduct a ceremony at the Simcoe County offices in Midhurst.

He plans to arrive at the Legislature at Noon on Friday, Nov. 21, where he will conduct a “ceremony honouring Mother Earth” and appeal to the Premier to “put our minds to rest and defend the future of the water supply for children.” Beaton says he is inviting David Suzuki, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians, to join him at Queen’s Park

(In August, Barlow reminded people attending the Elmvale water festival that United Nations’ statistics indicate about 3,900 children die every day from the lack of clean water and said the province needs to recognizes water is a public trust.)

Beaton said he is surprised there has not been a public outcry about plans to create a landfill over the aquifer.

“People should be speaking out! This water is the life force; it gives us life. How soon will it be before the groundwater and Georgian Bay are polluted?” he asks. “This will affect the fish; why are the fishermen not upset, not speaking out?

“If anyone proposed building a garbage dump in Lafontaine, Midland or Penetanguishene, there would be a public outcry.

“Are people just going to close their eyes; their ears, their mouths? Are we all going to say nothing? We should be crying! We shouldn’t be walking around like everything is normal. It’s not going to be normal. It’s not going to be normal when all those trucks start rolling in every day to start dumping garbage that will eventually leak into the groundwater.

Beaton, who in 1992 received a Governor-General’s medal for contributions to his fellow Canadians, said he is acting “to protect our Mother Earth from harm and protect the water that belongs to our children.”