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Saugeen Ojibway Nation raises many concerns over proposed DGR - Part 2

by Sandy Lindsay

September 27, 2013

DGR

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Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) Chief, Randall Kahgee and Legal Counsel, Alex Monem and Murray Frame presented concerns over the proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) at the Joint Panel Review being held in Kincardine.

"Throughout the Environmental Assessmen (EA), SON has expressed deep concerns over a high level waste DGR and, with the exception of Kincardine, the municipalities that are considering hosting it," said Chief Kahgee.  "The potential impacts on SON cannot be considerd in isolation but must include the cumulative affects by OPG (Ontario Power Generation) and the NWMO (Nuclear Waste Management Organization)."

According to Kahgee, OPG has failed to consider high level waste in its cumulative affects and SON says that there is an interconnectedness between the two DGRs (low and intermediate waste and high level waste).

"It is deeply troubling," he added, "that OPG has not addressed significant environmental affects of co-locating low and intermediate waste and high level waste DGRs.  The Cumulative Affects Assessment (CAA) was enormously flawed and could have catastrophic affects on the Saugeen Ojibwa Nation and its future."

Legal Counsel Alex Monem pointed out that it was not SON's understanding that the guidelines would have excluded transportation issues.  "It did not occur to us that these would not be part of the discussions."

Kahgee said that there had been extensive discussions over the years raising concerns and impacts on the SON territory with a view to finding a way to address the fears of SON people during the 50 years of operation of the nuclear site.,

When asked by the Chair, Dr. Stella Swanson, how the panel could better understand what works and doesn't work with the First Nation and how they could move forward, Kahgee replied,  "The message has been consistent.  There is a high level of distrust and a long list of fears by our people.  We must become part of the solution for these dilemmas and must not be excluded. The history of the country is rampant with exclusion and it is a dark history." 

According to Kahgee, SON was in the territory before treaties were signed.  "We had our own system of government, our own language, our own laws and our own way of relating to one another. We were marginalized, victimized and our identity, culture and language were all destroyed.  People are stilling dealing with the impacts of the residential schools." 

He added that little is taught in schools of the First Nations.  "Under old laws," he pointed out, "with a University degree, I would have ceased to be an Indian under the Indian Act and I would not have been able to represent my people - we were not even allowed to retain legal counsel."

Kahgee said that his advice to the panel was simple ... to put down pre-conceived ideas and look at it as SON  does.  "The Treaty of Niagara was simple - nation to nation based on mutual respect.  Sadly, that respect has been lost in attempts to marginalize and assimilate our people. We ask for a mutual respect and one that truly respects our place in this territory.  You acknowledged our people and that's a first step and our people have never lost sight of that (treaty) promise and will fight to retain it."

 

 

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"We are not museum pieces to be put on display," he asserted.  "our treaties are living breathing documents with the full force of the law and speak to our place in this territory.  I encourage you (panel) to look at International best practices.  I want to be very clear.  This conversation is much deeper than consultation.  This is a forever project and ... one of our biggest hurdles is time.  It takes time and commitment and one of your biggest hurdles (panel) is the timeframe in which you have to act.  I would like to hope there is flexibility in the timeframe and to continue this discussion but these are not easy discussions.

Kahgee said that he didn't envy the position that the panel was in.  "It's a tough place and we are asking you to better understand our concerns as they relate to this project.  Again, though, the biggest challenge is time."

He said that OPG has shown it is committed to working with SON as SON is with OPG.

 


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Friday, September 27, 2013