Aboriginal Justice: Pure Water

by David Milne

IMG_3667On 25 May 2010, the Simcoe County Council voted to ask the Ministry of the Environment of the Province of Ontario to revoke the Certificate of Approval for Dump Site 41. The Ministry immediately approved the request. The pure water of the Alliston Aquifer has been protected indefinitely, at least in this location. 

Common sense and environmental activism have won a huge victory. This campaign was a wonderful period of cooperation and mutual trust among Indigenous people, local farmers, residents of nearby towns and churches and activists from environmental and other NGOs, including Christian Peacemaker Teams.  

Anishinaabe Kweag, five women from  Beausoleil First Nation, began the camp site that became the focal point of the campaign and led the gate vigils. Their spiritual vision of protecting the water inspired all of us. Many other Indigenous people joined their efforts.

They returned to communities threatened still by the legacy of residential schools–loss of language, cultural values and family cohesion. They struggle with poverty and health issues that greatly exceed that of non-indigenous settler communities.  Courts and governments continue to ignore Indigenous treaty rights and land claims.

An aquifer is protected–what will it take to establish the pure water of right relations between us?