Topic: Environment

For Danny Beaton, Greenbelt Celebrates Mother Earth

Harold and Ann Boker and Danny in Art Parnel Clover Field Simcoe County Photo Courtesy of J.E.Simpson, 2009

Harold and Ann Boker and Danny in Art Parnel Clover Field Simcoe County Photo Courtesy of J.E.Simpson, 2009

Now in a ponderous and tentative way the Ontario government is engaged in a consultation to expand the Greenbelt into the sacred heartland of Huronania. It is the core of the civilization that produced the prophetic figure, the Peacemaker.

Technocratic words about wetlands, cold temperature water, moraines, acquifers, base flow and the key indicator species, the Brook Trout are the language of the long overdue excercise to expand the Greenbelt. They have little resonance however, compared to those expressed by Danny Beaton’s, passion for Mother Earth.

In contrast to official jargon, Beaton explains that, “under the Nanfan Treaty the Mohawk nation has the Right to water and wood from Six Nations to Georgian Bay as long as the grass grows and the sun shines…therefore as a Mohawk man I have a right to protect our sacred waters, sacred farm land and our spiritual animals.”

Beaton, a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan, took his great stand in the defence of Mother Earth in the campaign to defend the world’s purest source of drinking water. It was located near Elmvale, where the greatest setttlement of the people of the Peacemaker was located.

Beaton has termed The Peacemaker’s World, “The Healing Place.” He finds its “probably one of the most beautiful places that I have been to in my entire life. The waters are everywhere. The forests are everywhere. We pick the
berries.” Here he eats the fish and gathers cedar on a regular basis.

There was a 22 year struggle that sought to protect the world’s cleanest water from becoming a garbage Dump. It was called based on an engineering report, Dump Site 41. Beaton played a major role in stopping the dump from receiving garbage.

Beaton first organized an eight day walk from where Dump Site 41 would be built to Queen’s Park. It was called The Walk for Water. He saw the treck as bringing “attention to the Sacred Waters of the Alliston Aquifer and the tributaries that run into Georgian Bay.”

Following the Walk Water Beaton organized an occupation of the site. It blockaded excavation machines from digging up the Sacred Mother Earth of the Peacemaker’s World.

What made Beaton’s passion so powerful is that he knew how to be arrested with dignity and power. It was a majestic dignity that the Peacemaker’s words of “Peace, Power and Righteousness” resounded from the ancient times from of his ancestors.

Beaton was arrested on the blockade line by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers. At the time of his arrest he was submitting his photographs of the struggle to First Nations Drum and News From Indian Country. At the time he was using an upright log for his desk and sitting on a lawn chair. After being put into handcuffs he was taken to the OPP Midland Detachment Center.

Beaton distinguished himself by refusing to sign a release form. By doing so he would have pledged never to enter the dump site again. He later explained how, “I felt some one had to show the world that this was all crazy”.

Beaton told the Justice of the Peace at his trial that “somebody had to stop the rape of Mother Earth.” At this point, he later recalled, “I felt like crying because of all the chaos that was happening but no justice for Mother Earth.”

In refusing to sign the form Beaton’s words were simple but eloquent. He told reporters, “Who Will Speak to the Water.” These were his last words to the press before spending three days in prison, before his bail hearing.

Beaton’s words of the need to speak for the water came at the right time to stop Dump Site 41. This is because when he went to prison the nonviolent struggle of peaceful resistance to save the world’s purest water had taken on the form of a great scientific experiment. It exposed the lies of the engineering professionals that had been used to deceive the voting public of Simcoe County.

When the resisters held the line against the bulldozers the water that flowed out of the Dump Site 41 site remained pure. As soon as the blockade was breached by the force of the OPP the water that flowed out became dirty.

The stain on the water became a dirty mark upon the politicians who backed Dump Site 41. If so much damage could be caused by simply digging a pit, what people reasoned, would be caused by dumping garbage into it?

During Beaton’s three days in prison, where his biggest complaint was the impurity of the water, an outraged public opinion caused everything to change. Incensed citizens mobilized and phoned their councilors, denouncing them for believing the lies of the engineers.

When Beaton arrived in the Barrie Simcoe County court house, everything had changed. He was released in the knowledge that work on Dump Site 41 had been halted.

The excavations were healed by restorative work. Eventually easements were put on the land by the Ontario Farmland Trust, to ensure that this prime Class One soil would remain in agricultural use forever.

Beaton a few years later came to the rescue to another threat to the cold pure waters that feed the cold water trout streams that flow into lower Georgian Bay. This new threat was termed the Dufferin County mega quarry.

Danny at surface springs in Tiny Township courtesy of Sharon Weatherall, May 2009

Danny at surface springs in Tiny Township courtesy of Sharon Weatherall, May 2009

Much like Dump Site 41 before Beaton’s involvement, opponents of a mega mile quarry on Canada’s best potato growing land had been getting nowhere. Farm houses and buildings were burned down. Their debris clogged local dumps. Forests were clear cut in violation of tree protection by laws. Fence rows were ripped up.

Beaton met with the organizers of opposition in a corporate law office on Bay Street. He told them, literally, to “Take a Hike.”

By suggesting they take a hike Beaton meant they should follow the example the stopped Dump Site 41. He called for a procession from Queen’s Park, the seat of political power which could kill the Mega Quarry, to the site of the proposed giant pit. The march was held and captured the publics imagination. This sparked by death of the scheme through the unusual imposition of an Environmental Assessment.

After the end of the five day trek Beaton and I were led by one of the organizers Smiling Yogi to a place where he promised we would appreciated what the hike was all about. He took us to one of the magnificent cold water streams of Huronia.

Yogi took us to a White Cedar Brook Trout stream which is an important tributary for the cold water Nottawasaga River flowing into Georgian Bay. Here Brook Trout leaped through its sparkling fast running waters, laced with riffles,
runs and pools. It was lined with verdant green watercress.

Beaton is now focused on protecting the Nottawasaga River and the Minesing Wetlands from the polluted storm water that is set to flow from urban expansion in Midhurst. His passion for Mother Earth gives substance to the call of the public consultation document for the expansion of the Greenbelt in Huronia called appropriately, “Protecting Water.” The document exposes how urban sprawl is a threat to the wetlands and trout streams that nourish Georgian Bay. But he expresses it was t through the wisdom of native people who see sacred waters as Mother Earth’s blood.

Chiefs Council Launches GoFundMe Campaign to Quash Oil Tanker Moratorium Act and Great Bear Rainforest


LAX KW’ALAAMS, BC, January 24, 2018 – The Chiefs Council represents over 30 communities engaged in the First Nations-led Eagle Spirit energy corridor proposed from Bruderheim, Alberta to tidewater in northern British Columbia. Its members have unextinguished Aboriginal rights and title from time immemorial and continuing into the present, or have treaties over the land and ocean of their traditional territories. Having protected the environment as first-stewards of their traditional territories for millennia, the Chief’s Council is vehemently opposed to American ENGOs dictating government policy in their traditional territories—particularly the illegal imposition of the Great Bear Rainforest and the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act proposed by the liberal government.

Today the Chiefs Council wishes to announce that it has set up a GoFundMe page to assist with legal and administrative costs needed to quash the Government’s unilaterally imposed Oil Tanker Moratorium Act and the Great Bear Rainforest—both of which were established largely through the lobbying of foreign-financed ENGOs and without the consultation and consent of First Nations as required by the Constitution. We have and will always, put the protection of the environment first, but this must be holistically balanced with social welfare, employment, and business opportunities. These government actions harm our communities denying our leaders the opportunity to create a brighter future for their members.

The Chiefs Council understood that liberal government was supposed to be supporting reconciliation–not perpetuating past failed colonial policies designed subjugate and marginalize indigenous peoples. It is a sad comment that this action is required to taken by Canada’s poorest people against a federal justice department with an indigenous minister. When the federal government possesses unlimited financial resources, such heavy-handed unilateral action clearly is not consistent with the Crown’s fiduciary duty to Aboriginal peoples.

Powering Reconciliation – Indigenous Participation in Clean Energy


 
In a first of its kind report, Lumos Clean Energy Advisors released the results of a national survey of clean energy projects with Indigenous participation. The findings are impressive to say the least.

Indigenous participation in Canada’s burgeoning clean energy economy has risen rapidly over the past two decades, especially the last 10 years. There was a dramatic rise from 26 projects in operation in 2008 to the 152 projects that generate energy today.

These are only medium-large projects (over 1MW in size). There are another 1,200 small projects in Indigenous communities across Canada.

These projects represent nearly one fifth of Canada’s overall electricity production infrastructure. Enough to power 7.5-9.5 million homes.

Communities were involved in these projects as owners or partners, or had Impact Benefit Agreements, lease agreements, revenue sharing agreements, etc., with project developers.

Participation in these projects has had significant employment, economic, and social benefits for communities involved.

Building these projects created an estimated 15,300 person-years of jobs for Indigenous community members. This translates into roughly $842 million in employment income. These jobs come in the form of direct employment such as: construction workers (ex. heavy equipment operators, iron workers, electricians), environmental monitors, site security, etc. They also include spin-off opportunities like catering, camp services, and more.

While some of the jobs are limited to the construction the projects, the experience gained by community members has allowed them to find employment on other projects in their regions. Beyond this, nearly 300 individuals, now have long term careers operating and maintaining the projects.

The investments and agreements made by communities are now yielding huge returns. After paying off any debt requirements, these projects are earning a total net returns of about $167 million per year. Over the next fifteen years it’s expected that total profits will be around $2.5 billion.

This revenue and the employment from the projects, has helped create more self-reliance in communities. They create own-source funds to use towards education, healthcare, elder facilities, and other pressing needs. As Chief Jim Leonard of Rainy River First Nation says: “Solar is powering a more socially and economically stable future for our people.” Rainy River wholly owns a 25 MW solar farm just outside of Thunder Bay.

These outcomes only start to hint at the importance of the findings of the survey: That these projects represent powerful, tangible steps on the path to reconciliation.

Project partnerships often represent a recognition and respect for Indigenous rights and territory. With the active involvement of Indigenous communities, traditional knowledge and values become engrained in the project’s design and implementation – helping to minimize environmental impact. And respect-oriented relationships can strengthen the economic basis for healthy communities, long term prosperity, and sustainable livelihoods.

But this good news story is not over yet. Over the next 30 years, Canada will be going through a significant transition as it moves towards a low-carbon future. This will open vast new opportunities for new renewable energy projects but also other areas of the clean energy economy like electric vehicles, smart grids, and more.

It’s important that we build on the success we’ve seen here with these 152 projects. Collaboration and shared learning is needed to ensure the clean energy future also continues down the path of reconciliation. Indigenous rights, values, and leadership must continue to be integrated as the sector expands.

To help make this happen, we’re working with a range of partners on initiatives such as the 20/20 Catalysts Program and the Indigenous Clean Energy Network, to foster Indigenous leadership and promote collaboration between all those involved in the sector.
Read the full report on:
indigenouscleanenergy.com