Canadian First Nations people protect water from dumpsite, 2009

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Timing
Time Period:  
8 May
2009
to
22 September
2009
Location and Goals
Country: 
Canada
Location City/State/Province: 
Simcoe County, Ontario
Location Description: 
North East of Elmvale, Ontario
Goals: 
To stop a garbage dump from being built on the Alliston aquifer, one of the purest sources of water.
 

The First Nations people respect water and consider it a live giving force. This is why they were not prepared to allow a landfill site from being built on top of one the purest water sites in the world. The Alliston Aquifer ran from Georgian Bay to the Oak Ridge’s Moraine. The aquifer was part of a larger, deeper hydro geological system that had three First Nations communities in this territory: Rama, Georgina Island and the Beausoleil. It also ran directly below and into every body of water, so there was a possibility of contamination of one of the world's purest water source.

In 2009, The Anishinaabe Kweag (five)—Shelley Essaunce, Beth Brass Elson, Vicki Monague, Alida Elson, and Pauline Montegue—decided to make stand for the water that was being threatened by Dumpsite 41. They believed it was their duty to stand up for in to make sure it was preserved for future generations. They held a prayer ceremony, which they considered to be their response to a community meeting with the representatives of Simcoe County and the Ministry of Environment. They did not feel that the communities concerns were addressed, which left the aboriginal people feeling that the meeting was pointless. The meeting ended with a feeling that it was time to pray for hope and for the healing of Mother Earth and for the strength of the people that were against the County and the Ministry.

The women started a thirty-person protest camp of Native and Métis people for a peaceful weekend protest opposite site 41 on Friday, May 8, 2009, for all to participate in offerings of songs, drum, and a sacred fire burning. As well, the protest attracted 600 people for a walk for water. The group received a lot of support from the non-native community, who took part in their Water Ceremonies and songs from the Drum. The protest group vowed to continue their vigil until the government overturned the province of Ontario's appeal for site 41 and the plans for the landfill are dropped. They also began to circulate a petition to create awareness and asked local residents to sign it in support to close the dump. The Ontario Provincial Police were previously informed of the protest and blocked the gate with police cruisers shortly after the Prayer Ceremony had begun. The protest demonstration was moved next to the gates of the construction site.

A second walk for water on July 4, 2009, was attended by 700 people, and two days later, on July 6, the Anishinaabe Kweag proceeded to close down the construction at site 41 and proceeded to block all the entrances to the site, which they wanted to remain closed until Prime Minister Stephen Harper revoked the approval for the dump site. In response, Simcoe County filed for an interim injunction against the protesters on July 16 and it was officially obtained one week later.

The protesters were told to leave immediately or risk being arrested for mischief. 2500 people attended a protest on July 25 in Perkinsfield on the controversial proposed dumpsite, and a public rally was held on August 13 in Toronto for people to show their support for the moratorium.

On August 25, 2009, the Simcoe County councillors voted in favour of a one-year moratorium on construction and to allow for a public review. The councillors voted on Sept 22 in favour of discontinuing the construction and development of Dumpsite 41. This was followed by a ceremony at the protest camp, which resulted in allowing the sacred fire to go out and end the vigil. As well, on December 3, 2009, the Ontario Provincial Police dropped the charges of mischief and intimidation they laid against 18 people during the summer protest.

The campaign was finally over on May 25, 2010, when Simcoe County Council voted to rezone site 41 as agricultural land and put covenants into place that prevented any garbage from being dumped, sorted or treated at the site. The water had been protected.

Research Notes
Sources: 
Stop dump site 41 <http://www.stopdumpsite41.ca>

The Council of Canadians <http://www.canadians.org>

The petition site <http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-dump-site-41>

Monague, Vicki. “Beausoleil women pledge to keep vigil at dump site” Anishiabek News. May 2009. Web. 19 February 2012

Suzuki, David. “Tiny Township victory sets a big example”. Science matters. David Suzuki Foundation. Web. 4 September 2009.

Weatherall, Sharon. “Protesters fighting dump proposed over pristine water” Anishiabek News. May 2009. Web. 19 February 2012.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Kelli Klotz, 06/03/2010