Enough is enough already, so say North Shore elders who are standing up in what Sagamok First Nation elder Raymond Owl calls a “battle to prevent these violent acts against our environment,” namely the 30 year old program of aerial spraying of nearby forests with chemicals. Although these chemicals are banned by Health Canada for use in gardens and lawns they are still used by the forestry industry to proliferate profit. The chemical used in spraying, Glyphoshate has one purpose, “it is designed to kill” according to Physicians for the Environment.
On August 19, Raymond Owl, an elder from Sagamok First Nation, along with Willie Pine from Mississaugi First Nation met with a group of elders, youth and other concerned citizens from the north shore of Lake Huron at Mississaugi First Nation to discuss and resolve what to do about the aerial spraying of forest in the region.
Not prepared to sit by and allow the spraying of forest to continue as it has for over 30 years, Owl made the elders position clear saying, “aerial spraying is our common enemy.” He referred to the chemical, “Roundup or Glyphoshate” used in the spraying, as a cousin to “Agent Orange,” a chemical used in Vietnam which resulted in adverse health affects for American forces and Viet Cong alike.
In an August 20th CBC interview in response to Raymond Owl and the elders' concerns, Toronto doctor, Gideon Foreman, Director of Physicians for the Environment, stated his group also has serious concerns about aerial spraying. Firstly, he said it is banned for lawn and garden use, and “is designed to kill;” also beneficial insects such as lady bugs, earth worms, frogs and other amphibians are negatively affected by the spraying. Foreman continued, saying, the Federal Government regulates what chemicals are used, and, any research in determining whether or not a chemical agent is used is provided to Health Canada by the users of the product.
Gideon agreed with the elders by declaring “We don't think it should be used.” He went on to say his group believes the forestry industry “can continue without these products and find other ways.”
Representatives from municipalities in the north shore area attending the elders' meeting were unanimous in supporting the elders concerns on requesting the province to begin a moratorium on the use of Glyphoshate. As a result of the meeting a resolution was made by the the Traditional Ecological Knowledge elders' (TEK) group to word and submit a request to the province to ban using the chemical.
According to Health Canada, they are reevaluating Glyphoshate to determine the safety of its use and will come to a decision in late 2014. In the meantime, elders from the north shore of Lake Huron are hedging their bets by making their voices heard in addressing the dangerous impact of aerial spraying on the environment.
Chief Seathl, one of the most revered First Nation chiefs, with his great and noble soul, faithfully mirrored the thoughts, dreams and aspirations of elders from the Norh Shore in his poem penned in 1852
This we know.
The Earth does not belong to man:
Man belongs to the earth.
This we know.
All things are connected
Like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth
Befalls the son of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life.
He is merely a strand of it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does to himself.”
Perhaps Raymond Owl conveyed Chief's Seathl's plea when he told the group, “As humans we depend on the waters, air, plants, animals, birds, insects and medicines for survival, it is what sustains life, it is all inter connected. It is the Creator's Plan for us to live in harmony with these elements and to benefit from a long healthy life when we respect and honor what is given to us. It is our duty therefore to uphold the Creator's Plan.”