“The Kichi Zibi (Ottawa River) is as much part of my identity as is the blood travelling through the vessels of my heart. The many places on the Kichi Zibi where spirits are active, reach deep into my soul with their healing energy when I go to its shore and make a request through a tobacco offering, for it do so.
When my physical life ends, my spirit will continue to live on in a sacred land where the waters of Kichi Zibi flow eternal, strong, pure and free and be ever present for me.”
The above words are for me, a spiritual reality as an Anishinabe Algonquin man. All Algonquins should feel the same way. Actually, if it was up to me, all good people living within the perimeters of the Ottawa River watershed (Algonquin Territory) today, would feel as I do about the Kichi Zibi. No matter the colour of their skin, no matter where the beginnings of their bloodlines are, they have much to lose as a community and as a society, if some kind of catastrophe ever befalls the Kichi Zibi.
A nuclear waste dump in Anishinabe Algonquin Territory? I’ll tell you what I know about it.
18 years ago an ‘elder’ from Manitoba (I knew only slightly at the time) contacted me via a phone call and let me know that representatives of a nuclear waste organization were hoping to have a meeting with me. When I asked what it was about, the elder replied that he wasn’t sure but urged me to oblige the nuclear waste people with their meeting request. I did!
The meeting was in a suite of an Ottawa hotel. As I recall, there were three representatives of the nuclear waste group present in the room, two men and one woman. All of them unknown to me. They let me know it was their hope that I would endorse their plan of building a nuclear waste dump in Algonquin Territory.
Keep in mind that this was 18 years ago, shortly after I was first asked to attend the Kumik Lodge as a visiting elder. Also, at the time, I was already established in the territory as a human being who dedicated many hours of his life to activism. I suspect that these are likely the reasons why the nuclear waste people thought it important to have my support.
I let them know right away that not I, nor any other Algonquin, male or female, young or old, would ever endorse any plan to have a nuclear waste dump to be constructed on our traditional lands. They asked about gifts. “What gift,” they wanted to know, “might be given to leaders of the Algonquin Nation to persuade them to sign up with their plan?” – “No Chief will ever agree to nuclear waste being brought into our lands,” is what I told them.
To be truthful, I really don’t know much about nuclear energy. However, I do know what the word ‘waste’ is connected to. ‘Excrement’ is ‘waste’. It is poison! I don’t want excrement ending up in the Kichi Zibi. And I do not want nuclear waste in it either.
Fast forward 18 years and lo and behold, a nuclear waste dump is at this time, been given to go-ahead in Chalk River, Ontario, Algonquin Territory. The Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) are supporting it. A ceremony was held at the site not long ago. A man, (wearing a ribbon shirt) Dan Ross who identifies as an Algonquin elder, was there with representatives of the AOO (see photo). The AOO have even given the nuclear waste site a name: ‘Minwamon Building’.
The leadership at Pikwàkanagàn is supporting the plan for a major nuclear waste disposal site to be built in Anishinabe territory (Chalk River, ON). All other Bands who make up the Nation are against it. It makes my blood boil that one Algonquin community can decide to stand in support of a deal which can potentially, at some point in the future, kill the waters of Kichi Zibi. Did the Algonquin Nation give the Chief and Band Council of Pikwàkanagàn that kind of power? No, it did not! So where the hell do they get off doing it? The leadership at Pikwàkanagàn does not speak for me nor for all other Algonquins of our Nation. I wonder how the citizens of Pikwàkanagàn feel about what their Chief and Band Council are getting them into?
Chalk River is in an earthquake zone! It is very likely that there will come a time in the future when the earth will tremble violently around where the nuclear waste dump is, causing the walls of the storage place to crack. The waste will then surely make its way to the Kichi Zibi (only a kilometre away). Such a catastrophe might happen! If I’m wrong, tell me where I am!
Do they (nuclear waste people) know with all certainty that it will never happen? Fifty years from now? A hundred years from now? When it does and I believe it surely will, the people of our bloodlines living at that time in the future, will condemn us, their ancestors, for not stopping this project to be built.
I object to this project taking place. I condemn it! My spirit instructs me to do so as well. Can we even continue to call ourselves Anishinabe Algonquin if we do not at least vigorously protest the bringing of nuclear waste into our territory? The setter community needs to fight this, too.
Only our people who respect the notion that ‘water is life’ will not be OK with the nuclear waste dump being built on Algonquin Territory.
We should file a class action lawsuit against the Province of Ontario and the nuclear waste company for bringing poison near the Kichi Zibi.
Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont)