IG news Update,
Grand Chief Victor Bonspiel of the Mohawk Council (MCK) of the Kanesatake (MCK) said recent reports about environmental devastation and a reign of terror in his community were “taken out of perspective” and unfairly maligned the Kanesatake .
The leader of the Kaniankeha:ka (Mohawk) community on the shores of Lake Two Mountains in Quebec acknowledged that there is a serious problem with the toxic dump caused by a recycling site in their area that has been in the news. Reports and political gestures, as well as the issue of trucks from outside the area dumping contaminated material on community members’ properties.
“Yeah, there’s a problem with G&R [recycling] site,” he told CTV News. “But we are in discussions with the federal government to come up with a solution and a rehabilitation plan for the area, the whole, the entire site. It’s going to be something.”
Bonspiel blamed his predecessor, Serge Otsi Simon, for not calling the site’s owners, Robert and Gary Gabriel, sooner with a solution. Simon currently serves as Head of the MCK Council.
“He [Simon] been here for 10 years and did nothing about this issue,” said Bonspiel. “I’m disappointed that it got to this point, but I’m even more disappointed that Serge Simon did nothing about it during his tenure here. I didn’t do anything.”
The two men are at loggerheads over Simon’s recent by-election, and Bonspiel said the former Grand Chief is under fraud investigation for alleged financial mismanagement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simon, who was Grand Chief from 2011 to 2021, told CTV News he wishes he had fought harder to stop dumping in his area.
“The situation caught us so quickly. We had no idea what they were doing until it was too late,” he said.
Bonspiel said his council brought in the owners, closed the site, and began a long process of cleanup.
He said that the picture being painted by others of the brothers Simon and Gabriel is unfair.
“They are nothing like they are being portrayed,” he said. “he is [Simon] Just spreading negativity, and that’s adding to the picture that the whole of Canada is painting and looking at Kenstake, and that’s not right.”
The garbage that is dumped in the community does not come from Kanesatake. Bonspiel and Simon said more effort needs to be made to stop the trucks at the point of departure so they don’t end up in the field.
“There needs to be some sort of guideline or policy or something stricter about where these outside businesses are bringing their waste into Kensatec,” Boonspill said. “It needs to be followed so that it stays away from Kanesatake.”
Bonspiel said Canasatec’s environmental office currently checks the trucks’ manifests when they enter the area to make sure what they’re dumping isn’t contaminated.
However, he added that it is difficult to stop the flow of waste without a police force or trained environmental officers.
Bonspiel said he needs the province at the table and more resources to establish environmental agents and the means to enforce the rules.
Simon said outside companies know they can offer money to community members to dump them in Kanesatake with little recourse.
“The industry takes advantage of it, and the band members here will do anything to stay out of poverty, and unfortunately, the environment takes a hit,” he said. “Truckers know that environmental laws apply, and they knowingly dump these contaminants on private property.
“Truckers and companies know this, but Consetech is a gray zone where there is no enforcement, so it’s a safe bet they can get away with it.”
Canada’s Indigenous Services Minister Mark Miller commented on outlaw players dumping in Kanesatake in Ottawa on Wednesday.
“It should also be clear that, for years, non-Indigenous Quebecers, with full knowledge of the facts, have been using the dump illegally,” he added. “Therefore there is a great responsibility on the part of those who knew they might abuse it – I would not use the word ‘illegal’, but on the part of some who made short-term gains, perhaps at the expense of future For their own community.”
Ian Lafreniere, Quebec’s minister responsible for indigenous affairs, said Quebec came up with an action plan last year to stop trucks from dumping and it has worked so far.
“Now we need to take care of the dump site, and it’s going to take a lot of money, but the Feds need to be responsible for that,” he told CTV News.
governments are responding
Quebec NDP MP Alexandre Boleris asked Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu about the issue during question hour on Tuesday, calling for a parliamentary investigation to determine the “exact causes of the disaster.”
He said, “The smell is appalling. The damage is real. Members of the community can’t take it anymore. They are intimidated and left to fend for themselves.” “Federal intervention is urgently needed.”
Hajdu echoed Bonspiel, saying “the federal government is working with Kenestec leaders to determine a solution to move forward in a way that protects the health and safety of the community.”
Hajdu agreed that Canada needs to do better to protect Indigenous lands.
In Quebec City, opposition Liberal critics for Indigenous and the environment issued a joint statement calling on Legault’s CAQ government to act.
“The CAQ government can no longer ignore the ongoing environmental situation in the Mohawk community of Kanesatake,” read the statement from MNAs Desiree McGraw and Andre A. Morin. “We hope that the Environment Minister [Benoit Charette]whose ride also includes Lake of Two Mountains, will answer the cries of community members.”
Quebec’s environment ministry told CTV it inspected the site, fined the dump’s owners and revoked a permit it had issued in 2015. The ministry said in a statement that it is working with Canada and the MCK on the issue.
“It should be noted that the Quebec government cannot contribute financially to the rehabilitation of the land. The site, which is federally owned, does not qualify for Quebec’s environmental liability,” said ministry spokesman Frédéric Fournier. . “MELCCFP is continuing its surveillance activities in G&R and the surrounding area.”
With reporting by CTV News reporters Sasha Teeman and Ian Wood.