Story by Danny Beaton, Mohawk Nation (www.dannybeaton.ca)
Photos by Bob Preston
Interview with Johnnie Beaver:
We have to ask ourselves why this all happened here in America, Canada, even Tiny Township, Ontario: why our Mother Earth was raped and plundered, why our waters are mismanaged, polluted, even drained by inventions, corporations, and technology. Who runs these inventions and corporations? Not Indians; of that I’m sure. What is driving people to exploit the Earth in a way that our future generations will suffer the consequences? Where did these problems come from, and why?
People talk about greed today, and power. Why would people want to make money from polluting their own drinking water? Why would people destroy farmland when farmland feeds families, feeds our communities, and feeds our nations? Why would a corporation build a waste site/garbage dump on their drinking water? Have we become so idealistic about the pursuit of monetary goals that life is all about making a buck? Have we become blinded by profit at the cost of destroying our children’s future water?
There are always reasons why struggles in life take place, and North America has had its share of problems, starting with the injustice to Native peoples and their homeland. Today, we have to rethink what we are doing for profit: does it go against life, and does it go against our children’s future? The history of Mother Earth and Native Americans from first contact with Europeans is not a good one, but the great thing is that it can all change.
We cannot forget that the struggle that took place in Tiny Township had some very strange peculiarities. For instance, in a free and democratic society, why were illegal permits enforced by an armed force of police who protected those who were exploiting the sacred waters of the Alliston Aquifer of Georgian Bay and its tributaries? And why was pure, clear drinking water being drained and relocated by a corporation? Why were innocent town citizens, farmers, and Natives arrested and put behind bars? These questions should be answered to avoid further conflict between citizens and corporations. Native treaties for the Mohawk Nation say we are to have food, water, and homeland, as long as the sun shines and the grass grows. It seems that in many cities, councilors, official, directors, police, and the military are ready to defend profit over life—not only in Third World countries, but right here in Canada. Some of this is documented in the new film Flow, featuring Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians. (Rent it at Blockbuster stores across Canada).
Today, the issue of restoring water and farmland is of the utmost importance if we are to survive as long as we can survive. Our children are watching us to make sure we do the right thing. All these things I’m saying have been passed on from our ancestors, and our elders are telling us this. We need to protect life again, as in the old days. Back then, we never wasted anything. People lived with a real goal of zero waste—exactly what grassroots people are talking about today. Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the things people really need to learn. It is our way of life as indigenous people; it always was.
Basically we have done everything in a peaceful way to stop Dumpsite 41 and protect the sacred waters of the Alliston Aquifer. Mother Earth is still taking care of her children, even while the rape of her blood goes on throughout the world. Tiny Township was a drop in the bucket. Every little positive thing we do as human beings is of the utmost importance and will mean a lot in the history of Mother Earth.
Everywhere on this planet water is becoming a cash crop for corporations to harness, bottle, and profit from. In fact in many countries, water is being piped and controlled under lock and key in indigenous territories. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund fund these new corporations. This trend has been documented in the film Flow, featuring Maude Barlow, Senior Advisor on Water to the United Nations, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and author of 16 books (three are international bestsellers). In this documentary, Maude Barlow challenges corporate executives in their pursuit to exploit water and indigenous peoples and their human rights.
After four months of protesting peacefully in Simcoe County, Natives, farmers and citizens convinced the Simcoe Council to vote a one-year moratorium to stop Dumpsite 41 on one of the cleanest waters in the world. Later, the promise was made that no waste site/dump would ever be built over the sacred waters of the Alliston Aquifer. In Tiny Township, where Dumpsite 41 was to be built, water bubbles out of Mother Earth on its own without a pump or machine, and in some places 600 gallons a minute of pure clean fresh water is rushing to the surface, there for the drinking. Being able to protect our children’s future water supply and ensure today’s children will be able to continue to access the sacred drink from Tiny’s Alliston Aquifer is of the utmost importance. We must never forget the Anishinabe women who started the peaceful protest at a camp across Concession 2 at Dumpsite 41 in May 2009 and defended Mother Earth’s sacred blood.
Currently at Site 41, Simcoe County still maintains a certificate of approval to go ahead with the waste industry or recycling plant in place of a dumpsite. Any type of plant or industry on the Alliston Aquifer would be an insult and detrimental to both the Alliston Aquifer and local farmland. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we still have a struggle to defend and protect sacred farmland and the sacred waters of Georgian Bay. Obviously, someone has profit on their agenda, and it looks like this struggle is far from over. Environmental groups such as the Green Party, Eco Justice, Canadian Environmental Law Association, and Council of Canadians can be of great service in this sacred struggle, but it was said by Gordon Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario to myself and Wilmer Nadjiwon and Jimelda Johnston of Cape Croker that the only way to stop Dump Site 41 was by a Native Court Injunction. Chief Rodney Monague of Beausoleil First Nation and Provincial Chief Angus Toulouse could play a strong role in the protection of the Alliston Aquifer now, before it is too late.
The Great Lakes are considered the largest fresh body of water in the world; these waters and tributaries must be protected at all cost for our children’s future and our present drinking water. This is a time when all people can join in to protect the Sacred Waters. Like our Peace Camp said: Shoulder to Shoulder, United We Stand.
Thank you for listening.
All my relations.
Please visit www.DannyBeaton.ca to sign the online petition. Please also contact Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario at email@example.com and Hon. John Gerretsen, Minister of the Environment at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to stop certificate of approval. For more information, contact Citizens for Safe Water (Anne and John Nahuis) at 705-322-1340 or 705-790-0340.