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The deep geologic repository (DGR) hearings that have gone on for the past three weeks in Kincardine have moved to Port Elgin (Saugee Shores).
The first of the Port Elgin sessions was held today (Monday, October 7/13) in the Rotary Hall at Saugeen Shores PLEX and, although large crowds were expected, attendance was quite low.
Today, October 7th, is also the 250th anniversary of the British Royal Proclamation of 1763 issued by King George III that recognized First Nations' land rights and became a guide to all treaty-making since with a basis felt in the Confederation of 1867 and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.
The day centered primarily around the concerns of the Historic Saugeen Métis (HSM) and Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO).
Patsy McArthur of the HSM explained the history of the families that had played a key role in the trading and settlement at the mouth of the Saugeen River and along the Lake Huron shoreline.
"Today," said McArthur, "the local historic Métis are considered an independent Métis community located in Southampton because we declined to joint the MNO."
According to McArthur the long-term vision and objective of HSM is the promotion and protection of the sustainability of the environment within the traditional Saugeen territory as it relates to the local HSM interests, rights and way of life. "We want to maintain the integrity of the local environment so that it can support a healthy harvest now and into the future."
When it comes to the nuclear industry, McArthur explained that the main concerns are for the safe storage of local nuclear waste with a minimal imprint on the water and lands.
While the HSM are apparently not against development, McArthur said they would find it difficult to support a proposed DGR without a clear and formalized understanding of how the HSM concerns would be considered and integrated into the long-term decision making and monitoring process.
It became apparent through the deliberations of the day that there is a definite disconnect between the Historic Saugeen Métis and the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON).
While each lays claim to aboriginal status, the three-way imprint is causing the Joint Review Panel to re-think and re-consider their views on the aboriginal status and concerns pertaining to the proposed DGR project.
Pauline Saulnier of MNO said that historically the Métis have been left on the sidelines. "In 1982", she said, "the Métis were recognized under the Constitution and then, in 2003, the Supreme Court provided clear direction that Métis rights should be considered."
The MNO is not 'local' but, instead, is considered regional with some 15,000 members.
"We have had many meetings with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission)," said Audrey Holden of the HSM. "CNSC has been in personal contact and we have established a relationship with its representatives."
MNO, on the other hand, said that it had only had three meetings with CNSC where questions were raised.
The Joint Review Panel had many questions surrounding the issue of the community, First Nation and Métis concerns.
It was evident today that the Joint Review Panel (JRP) had come up against questions that they appeared not to have been aware of prior to the hearings regarding the position of the Métis peoples, that referred to health issues, land issues and historic rights.
The hearings continue throughout the week in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores) and are open to the public.
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Monday, October 07, 2013