Michipicoten First Nation (MFN) is calling for immediate action by pulp and paper giant, Domtar and the Government of Ontario to resolve the continued chemical contamination of the First Nation’s traditional lands. The First Nation is preparing for legal action unless the necessary remediation and accommodation strategies can be agreed to, it announced today.
According to scientific reports, contaminated leachate has been running offsite from Domtar’s Martel Wood Waste Site into the local aquatic and terrestrial environment for several decades. Records show that Domtar has been in violation of its permit since 2013; a fact that was acknowledged in a joint letter from both the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) and the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) to Michipicoten First Nation.
Says Michipicoten Chief, Patricia Tangie; “It is unconscionable that Domtar, as well as the MECP, have known about this contamination for decades but have not stopped or remedied the problem. Domtar continues to leak contaminated leachate into the environment; damaging our natural resources for First Nations people and other residents in and around Chapleau. We are putting Government and industry on notice that First Nations people will no longer stand for the environmental contamination and degradation of our homelands. We are going to hold you accountable.”
Ontario has twice delegated consultation to Domtar to resolve the contamination issue; first in September 2019 and the second time in May 2020. Despite a joint Ministry Task Force to compel Domtar to consult with Michipicoten, Domtar has neither seriously consulted with the First Nation, nor resolved the continuing contamination problem.
Despite continued efforts from Michipicoten First Nation to work cooperatively and in good faith with all parties to develop proposed solutions, Domtar has avoided meaningful engagement with the First Nation. Requests for scientific and technical data, mitigation options and environmental monitoring solutions have been deflected, gone unanswered, or ignored by Domtar. Meanwhile, the leachate is spreading and contaminating new areas of land and water systems in and around Chapleau and includes Michipicoten’s traditional lands.
Concludes Chief Tangie: “Ontario and Domtar have left us with no other choice but to prepare for legal action. Our Nation is committed to protecting and preserving our lands for use by current and future generations. Caring for Mother Earth is the foundation of our traditional teachings and ways of life. These Ancestral teachings have been passed through our families for generations. Our teachings tell us that even a butterfly flapping its wings in Australia will come to have an affect on us here in Northern Ontario. We are experiencing an era of reconciliation in Canada, and we intend to end negative actions affecting our homelands and people. Our future generations are counting on us to pass on our collectively shared lands, waters and natural resources in good condition for them.”
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