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First Nations fight nuclear waste

Valerie Lannon

November 20, 2017

The Bawating Water Protectors (BWT) were on the march at Queen’s Park on November 9 to tell Ontario Liberals and Ontario Power Generation what they can do with their nuclear power waste. And it does not include storing it near the waterways of the Great Lakes, crossing indigenous lands and potentially harming everyone in the vicinity.

BWT is a coalition of Anishinabek and Iroquois Caucus First Nations, residing all the way from the Sault Ste. Marie area down to southern Ontario.

Radioactive colonialism

The nuclear industry wants to bury nuclear reactor waste on or near First Nations territories. Several corporations, hired by the Harper government, want to dump two million cubic metres of radioactive waste, which belong to the federal government, beside Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River.

Meanwhile Ontario Liberals are cancelling funding of green energy programs, running the Pickering nuclear station well beyond its design life, and spending tens of billions of dollars to rebuild the geriatric Darlington and Bruce nuclear stations.

The proposed dumping of nuclear waste on and near First Nations was done, of course, without consulting these Nations. Ontario has 20 nuclear plants and the government leaves it to the nuclear industry to dispose of the toxic waste.

This is the latest in a long history of corporations and governments using Indigenous land and labour for mining radioactive materials (poisoning Navajo and Dene miners), testing atomic weapons and disposing of toxic waste—a process that Indigenous scholars Ward Churchill and Winona LaDuke described 30 years ago as “radioactive colonialism.”

Indigenous resistance

Following an opening to the rally by the Smoke Trail Singers, a youth from the Anishinabek and Iroquois Caucus First Nations, acting as MC, described the damage to lands, animals and water caused by the Kincardine reactor, affecting the waters along Lake Huron and nearby waterways. “We need to speak for the water and for the seven generations ahead of us. As young people we understand our responsibilities. We demand the phase out of nuclear power and instead use renewable powers, or else we will be doing an injustice to future generations.”

Candace Day, Serpent River First Nation said “We need to hold the government accountable and think of how to live in harmony with nature.  The indigenous worldview is critical. There is no word for ‘owning’ the earth. We wouldn’t poison our mother and Earth is our mother.  The Canadian government is disgusting.”

Other speakers included Chief Don Maracle , Angela Bischoff (Ontario Clean Air Alliance), scientist Dr. Gordon Edwards, Katie an Anishinabek youth, Grand Chief Patrick Madahbee, and Deputy Chief Glen Hare.

Over 100 indigenous people and settler allies attended the rally. The indigenous youth tried to present a recreation of a barrel of toxic waste to Premier Wynne. When turned away by Queen’s Park security and Toronto police, the youth led the rest of the protesters to the nearby office building of Ontario Power Generation for a few more high-energy speeches of protest and a wonderful round dance.

For more information visit Bawating Water Protectors and

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