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Report of Wild Rice Removal at Pigeon Lake (July 21, 2016)

2016-07-22


July 22, 2016

Dear Chiefs of the Williams Treaties:

Re. Report of Wild Rice Removal at Pigeon Lake (July 21, 2016):
Following receipt of a communication from Dave Mowat, member and manomin harvester of Alderville First Nation and also consultation lead, Scugog Island First Nation in which he provided information that a source had contacted him observing people pulling wild rice from in front of their residences in the vicinity of 100-110 Birch Point Dr. As the harvesting committee recently reviewed permit applications in Pigeon Lake for Aquatic Vegetation Removal, Dave was well informed that the property owner in question did not have authority to do so.

I immediately contacted Parks Canada director Jewel Cunningham and staff to report incident. Parks Canada then dispatched staff to investigate the matter by 5 pm last evening. I also made contact with Ministry of Natural Resources to send enforcement as support as the Trent Severn Waterway is outside MNR jurisdiction. We are awaiting final investigation results and report and I will follow up again upon communication of final determination. Finally, as we were in a negotiations today, I requested the Department of Justice representatives to assist which they did. 

In the mean time, there have been ongoing reports throughout the day and into this evening that there is a movement amongst grassroots members to organize a protest and occupation to protect manomin. Unfortunately, based on the information that we have compiled at this time, it appears that there may be some misinformation regarding the extent of the "attack" on manomin that occurred yesterday.
Dave Mowat has reported that he also attended at 100 Birch Point at 3 pm this afternoon and that he did not see any of our members at the location at that time. Dave has taken photographic evidence that document his observation that minimal impact or encroachment into the rice has occurred and has followed up with his source to report to her that there is floating leaf along that particular shore; the dense bed is located out
probably over 100 meters from that particular shore.

Finally, Jewel Cunningham, Director, Trent Severn Waterway, Parks Canada followed up with me this late this afternoon (July 22, 2016) reporting on Park Canada's immediate response to the matter including, as provided above, having a Parks Canada staff member attend on site yesterday evening to gather preliminary information, along with photos from the complainant. Given the information, the matter was then
immediately turned over to Parks Canada Law Enforcement personnel who have commenced an investigation related to a violation of the canal regulations. Parks Canada enforcement will be on site this evening related to their investigation, including making contact with the property owner(s) in question concerning these alleged violations. They will then determine if any further law enforcement measures and/or actions are appropriate. Director Cunningham has also reported that they are working to establish a Parks Canada law enforcement presence on Pigeon Lake over the next week. This law enforcement presence will be an indication that Parks Canada's is committed to enforcing canal regulations, prohibiting any unauthorized removal or damage to wild rice.
At this time, I would recommend that you communicate to your members through whatever means is readily available and thank the. For their support and that the matter is being addressed and the Chiefs are certainly ensuring manomin is protected and any violation of it will not be accepted. Further, that all other parties, including Parks Canada, MNR, local MP and public supporters are aware and reacted quickly both
yesterday and today to ensure the protection was supported.

The Parks Canada working group has finalized draft terms of reference and a work plan which includes the review and approval of any permit application that has the potential of impacting manomin. The Williams Treaties First Nations has already implemented this term of the ToR and over the last several weeks, your traditional harvesters have been attending on-site visits with Parks Canada to ensure that manomin is indeed protected. Permits are NOT approved without consultation and review and on site visits by your people. I believe that we are establishing positive working relationships and have made Parks Canada very aware of the importance of the protection of manomin as a priority. In future working group meetings, consultation staff and/or manomin harvesters will be in attendance on an on-going basis to ensure all aspects of matters
related to the TSW are addressed appropriately on behalf of your individual First Nations.

The last report I received at approximately one hour ago, was that certain members are planning to arrive at Sunday to protect the manomin. I trust the above report will assist you in answering any questions that your members might have and provide assurances that you are aware and protecting manomin.

Miigwetch
Via electronic mail only
Karry Sandy McKenzie.
Williams Treaties First Nations


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