want voice on waterís future
By Raymond Bowe
The Enterprise Bulletin
COLLINGWOOD - After a brief introduction in his mother
tongue, the chief of the Chippewas of Nawash north of
Owen Sound said he wishes aboriginal people were advised
of any decision regarding Georgian Bay water.
Ralph Akiwenzie said natives have concerns over the effect
regional pipelines have on wildlife and fisheries on Georgian
Bay, Lake Huron and the Bruce Peninsula.
Everyone is aware of water issues because of Walkerton,
Akiwenzie said. Itís important to look at the economic
and environmental impact of any (pipeline) proposal.
Akiwenzie said many native bands not just the Chippewas
of Nawash are left out of any discussions concerning this
Referring to native rights, Akiwenzie said itís about
time a First Nations view is upheld. Any diversion or
water pipeline will have an effect on our shores. What
happens with (spawning grounds)? Itís scary.
Any shoreline alteration or development is important
to us, Akiwenzie said.
Earlier this year, Collingwood council denied extending
the water pipeline from Alliston to Bradford West Gwillimbury
because it would take water outside the watershed.
David McLaren, communications officer for the Chippewas
of Nawash, said you just canít send water 50 kilometres
and expect no impact on the environment.
McLaren said the band doesnít oppose all pipelines, but
asked that natives be advised of any proposals for such
He said accurate information in environmental assessments
(EA) isnít being given to the public, and many people
who live in native territories know their traditional
areas well, and what effects or damage would be done to
them with more development.
Pipelines donít guarantee citizens water quality and
quantity, McLaren said, and water could be contaminated
as it returns to the source by way of polluted rivers
The answer, McLaren said, is for the Municipal Engineers
Association to intensify Class EAs in certain areas that
may be more susceptible to damage or catastrophe.
McLaren said diversions in even the smallest water systems
could be similarly destructive, including the potential
transfer of aquatic species. The real effect is on fish
and the insects they eat, he said.
Referring to an information package, McLaren said the
Great Lakes account for 18 per cent of the worldís fresh
water. Only one per cent of that is renewable rainwater,
and the other 99 per cent is non-renewable prehistoric
Weíre playing too fast and loose with that one per cent,
McLaren said, adding more than 100 First Nations communities
live under boil-water advisories.
Councillor Chris Carrier, whoís also chairman of the
Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, said the amount
of data municipal councillors are given on water issues
Carrier said itís difficult for both councillors and
the public to sift through the mounds of information to
gain the accurate perspective needed to make the right