February 20, 2017
Eshkakogan, when referring the government’s lack of response to Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Elders’ many requests, said, “They don’t listen, when governments are not listening, then you are going to hear the wrath of our Elders.”
Eshkakogan went on to remind those attending that “the spraying program will probably start in July, so we have a number of things we can accomplish before then, but we have to let everything awaken in spring.”
The chief strongly recommended a strategy be formed leading to assembling a team and then “go out there and look at each of these blocks (spraying areas in the forests of all 21 First Nations).”
Elder and former chief Art Petahtegoose of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, White Fish Lake First Nation, has been a member of TEK since its inception. Petahtegoose reiterated the Elders’ position on aerial spraying.
“We want to hold Ontario and Canada to account for spreading this contaminant around our ‘kitchen.’ We’re going to sit down and remind them of their obligations.”
Petahtegoose spoke of having responsibility for the children and future generations and caring for Mother Earth.
“My mother takes care of me,” he said.
Sagamok Lands and Resource director Ross Assinewe told those gathered, “It’s not just the forestry industry, but (we) must look at others.”
“When we talk about a course of action, we have to look at who we are going to talk to.”
Assinewe referred to the corridors of hydro towers in the forest where spraying is done on an intermittent basis.
Elder Raymond Owl, of Sagamok, proposed holding a demonstration at Queen’s Park in the spring.
Eshkakogan said, “demonstrations are good, they get the message out, but they have to used at the right time.”
With no response coming from Health Canada regarding the Elders demands to stop aerial spraying, the focus for TEK has now shifted to the province. Currently, Quebec is the only province to ban aerial spraying. What will happen next in the Elders efforts to stop aerial spraying will be discussed at a March 3 meeting in M’Chjigeeng First Nation.
In the meantime, Eshkakogan will be speaking to other chiefs on this issue.