There are five walkers arriving in Toronto on the evening of Wednesday June 12 — Nancy Greyeyes, Rueben Roy, Sharon Veley, Geron Campbell, and Brian Whitstone — who were originally associated with a larger group of walkers called “A Sacred Journey for Future Generations” who wanted to stop here in the Big Smoke before meeting up with their allies in Ottawa on June 21, 2013, for National Aboriginal Day.
Along with it being National Aboriginal Day, it is also a working day for Parliament.
(I do want to take this moment add the words of Bonnie Matthews, “Aboriginal history is more than just a day, or a week, but deserves one cycle of Nokomis teachings to be an authentic-journey.”)
The walkers are: “Nancy Greyeyes, age 40, from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation started her part of the journey in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Bryan Whitstone, age 32, of Onion Lake Cree Nation started in Leslie, Saskatchewan. Geron Paul, age 22, a Dene from English River First Nation – LaPlonge Reserve near Beauval, Saskatchewan started walking from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Rueben Roy, age 17, is Metis from Beauval, Saskatchewan and came with Geron to Winnipeg. Sharon Veley, age 50, lives in Nipissing First Nation and started walking in Thunderbay, Ontario.”
Earth Walker, Nancy Greyeyes, stated that she felt it was important to bring a message to Ottawa regarding the recent passing of bills — such as Bill C-45 — which will have a huge, negative effect on our earth’s water. “We were given enough natural resources to survive,” she said.
The group is also concerned about the lack of quality and authenticity in the relationship between First Nations communities and the Federal government.
According to the walkers, “Canada, being one of the countries, with the most fresh water lakes, rivers, and wetlands which have provided life to animals and people for millennia are under siege. Big industries are putting all this at risk from the proposed nuclear waste dumping grounds around the Great Lakes and communities in northern Saskatchewan and Ontario to the tar sands developments in Fort MacMurray which is spreading across northern Alberta, Saskatchewan and the territories.”
The walk started on April 6, 2013, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with the five walkers. They packed all that they would need inside one car and take turns driving as they make their way East. They are running an average of twenty kilometers a day with the hopes of arriving in Ottawa on schedule.
Supporter Brass Elson from Serpent River said of the walkers’ journey, “This really is a call out to all Canadian natives and allies — anybody who cares about the water and the land — that it’s time to take responsibility of our resources and to start protecting our lands, water and air.”
In special consideration regarding nuclear waste, “the walkers have and will stop along the nuclear chain — including Peterborough — across Canada,” explained supporter Carrie Lester.
First Nations communities in Ontario have had a difficult and complex relationship with nuclear power, some of the history unknown or just coming to light in recent months.
This troubled relationship, unbalanced towards industry and government, is a form of environmental racism; an idea finally being heard by mainstream Canadians where First Nations communities and reserve lands/traditional territories bear the brunt of dangerous energy programs and poisonous environmental legislation that does not take into the account the needs and welfare communities or the environment.
In Toronto, this means a Thursday morning rally outside the G.E. Hitachi plant located right downtown at Dupont Street and Landsdown Avenue.
According to rabble.ca’s own John Bonnar in the article ‘Uranium processing plant a major concern for west-end Toronto neighbourhood’, Torontonians who at first were kept in the dark regarding the exact purpose of the G.E. Hitachi plant in their neighbourhood, are now growing uneasy with the thought of a nuclear processing facility so close to so many homes.
In Bonner’s article, he reports:
“But how many residents really understand what could happen in the event of an accident at the GE-Hitachi facility in Toronto?
‘We do know that if there is an industrial explosion in a place with ‘natural uranium’, that would spread all over the city and contaminate that city with radiation forever because uranium is radioactive for 4.5 million years,’ said [anti-nuclearactivist, Zach] Ruiter.”
This issue remains unresolved, hence the rally Thursday at 11:00 a.m.
There has also been controversy about the transportation of nuclear contaminated material through Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake territory.
In early 2011, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s made a decision to allow the Bruce Power Corporation to ship sixteen used steam generators — which amounts to 1,600 tonnes of radioactive waste — through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River territory.
This journey was condemned by First Nations communities and their allies due to the potential for an accident during transportation, which would devastate the region.
The Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake stood alongside other parties in Kahnawake, Akwesasne and Tyendinaga in a push back against Bruce Power.
Considering the risks too high for their people, “Therefore, in accordance with our Traditional laws and as stewards of our sovereign territorial waters, the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake is obligated to support the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force’s prohibition on hazardous and toxic materials within its territories and hall likewise assist in denying the transportation of nuclear waste through Mohawk Nation Territory,” the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake said in a statement.
In May 2011, Bruce Power withdrew its application to transport the sixteen generators.
The Earth Walkers schedule when they are in Toronto is as follows:
Wednesday June 12: rest and dinner
Thursday June 13 Daytime: GE Hitachi Uranium Fuel Processing plant demo at 1025 Lansdowne at Dupont
Thursday June 13 Evening: Native Canadian Centre at Spadina and Bloor Social and Feast, sponsored by Native Youth and starts at 6:00 pm
Friday June 14 Evening: Talk and Feast at Friends House, 60 Lowther (behind OISE) from 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
For more news on the Ottawa part of their journey, please see this Facebook page.