Parks Canada issues statement over work stoppage at Burleigh Falls dam 

By Natalie Hamilton

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Kawartha Nishnawbe land defenders have stopped work at the Burleigh Falls site  

More than a week into the work stoppage at the Burleigh Falls dam project, Parks Canada has issued a statement regarding the land  defenders and their rights to the land within their treaty territory.

“The Government of Canada is working to advance reconciliation and  renew the relationships with Indigenous Peoples based on the recognition  of rights, respect, collaboration, and partnership,” says David  Britton, director of Ontario waterways.

Kawartha Nishnawbe land defenders in Burleigh Falls blocked work on  the dam project on Jan. 13 after they say they were not consulted about  the project.

Parks Canada did consult with Curve Lake First Nation in previous  meetings, and recently at a Jan 6, 2021 online virtual meeting  stated  the organization did consult with Kawartha Nishnawbe in 2016. “Parks  Canada has offered to meet with Kawartha Nishnawbe,” adds Britton.

“Not to my knowledge has there been any consultation with Kawartha  Nishnawbe in 2016 regarding the replacement of the dam,” said Nodin  Webb, spokesperson for Kawartha Nishnawbe. He went on to say Parks  Canada is falsely claiming they consulted with the community as a whole  in 2016. “I also do not believe Parks Canada is respecting us, if  anything, they’ve ignored us,” adds Webb.

Parks Canada says they remain available and hope to connect in a meaningful way through this process.

“Parks Canada continues to meet with Curve Lake First Nation and  other Williams Treaty First Nations on the upcoming phases of work for  the Burleigh Falls dam replacement project and are working together to  develop fisheries monitoring and mitigation plans,” says Britton.

“We are fully aware of the litigation in court and we will not  comment on the issue at this time. The part of the court litigation lies  with Crown Indigenous Relations Services Canada,” added Britton. Curve Lake Chief Emily Whetung issued an official statement on the blockade.

“Many of our members harvest in or near Burleigh Falls Dam area, and  our goal through our consultation process with Parks Canada has been to  protect the impacts on the species that our members harvest,” says Chief  Whetung.

The statement also says while Curve Lake First Nation recognizes the  complicated history of the Kawartha Nishnawbe, their relationship to  the land at Burleigh Falls, and their assertion with the Federal  Government and Curve Lake respect that they have an independent  perspective.

“The Burleigh Falls Dam is located within the recognized  pre-confederation and Williams Treaties Territory and we feel a  responsibility to protect the environment and species in the area as the  reconstruction project moves forward.”

Parks Canada says there are do not know the full cost of the stoppage, but did say there is no impact on the spawning season.

Natalie Hamilton  is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Peterborough This Week . The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

 

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