Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU)
Inquiry on the Impacts of the Uranium Cycle
from Mireille LaPointe
My name is Mireille LaPointe. I am a member of Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. I would like to thank all those who are here to listen to this petition today.|
During a visit to Canada, Paulinho Paiakan. a leader of the Kayapo people of Brazil stated: "l am trying to save the knowledge that the forests and this planet are alive, to give it back to you who have lost the understanding." In saying this Paiakan was not arrogant. In reminding us of the original teachings, of our relationship with all that surrounds us, he was fulfilling his responsibility to himself and to us all.
As Indigenous People, where we sit on the Medicine Wheel compels us in our duty of guardianship of the earth. We are keepers of this understanding that without a planet that is clean and safe for all, we have nothing. This cannot happen nor be sustained without the health of all ecosystems seen and unseen. In turn this health cannot be maintained without the understanding to which Paulinho Paiakan was refering. The earth is not a supermarket of free and limitless resources. Taking from the earth no matter how small demands care and responsibility... demands returning to the earth. The balance between taking and giving back must be maintained.
As people of this earth, we all sit on the Medicine Wheel, we all have a responsibility to the earth, to this balance between taking and giving back. That is for each of us to determine ina good way.
As women, we also have responsibilities. We are water carriers and that is why I am here and have asked to speak to you today. Our responsibility as Anishinaabe Kwewug, by virtue of the fact that we carry future generations, is to the water. This water that was here before you and me and carries all our stories.
As human beings, each and every one of us in this room are connected to water because for 9 months, we breathe water, we are surrounded by water. We are 85% water... and we all understand that without clean water we cannot survive.
You will agree then, that water is critical to our wellbeing, the well being of the planet and all creatures on it. As many of you know, our communities have been struggling against a proposed uranium exploration project in North and Central Frontenac County which has the potential to contaminate the water down the Mississippi River into the Ottawa River to the city of Ottawa and down to the St. Lawrence. The lakes of our homeland are part of the headwaters of the system you drink, bathe and live from. Uranium poisons. Once it has entered the water system, it cannot be removed. This is a fact that must never be forgotten. Think in terms of your daily life without access to potable water. Your taps are useless. All water must be brought into your home. You can't go fishing. The animals are all contaminated from the water they drink. The trees and the plants are also contaminated from the water that feeds them.... Everything lives but was is underneath is dead or dying.
Background radiation is unavoidable and as a species, we have adapted to this level of exposure. As Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility has stated: "We can't achieve zero radiation exposure, but we can achieve zero man-made radiation exposure." Indigenous and settler communities in Canada and the United States are at this very moment suffering from the consequences of uranium exploration and mining. The Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and Shabot Obaadjiwan have steadfastly refused to consider uranium exploration and mining on their traditional territories and have forged strong bonds with the settler communities in our region confident that our common opposition to uranium exploration and mining is the only responsible course of action we can consider.
In my research to prepare for this presentation, I was awed and humbled by the continued resistance we all have brought, Indigenous and non Indigenous peoples to protect the land and the water: KI, the Lubicon Cree, Elizabeth Penashue in Nitassinan, Paulinho Paiakan, David Suzuki, Jim Harding, Helen Caldicott and ourselves... to name just a few. All of us are joined together and our respect for each other compels us to protect one another's interests. (You have an opportunity as the largest municipality in the watershed to raise your voice in defense of the water, in defense of your health, in defense of your children. We are here to ask that you join us in adopting a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining. The consequences of your decision will reverberate far and wide into all our communities and for many generations to come.)
I will not discuss economics, energy use or politics (with you). These arguments you have heard or will hear again and again. My words to you are these: we must not treat water as a simple commodity. It is living and life giving. The water must remain clean for all: today, tomorrow and for generations to come.
Thank you for your time and attention.