Evidence of meeting #35 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was kahnawake.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Bartholomew J. Tsannie  Chief, Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation
Anne Robillard  General Manager, Hatchet Lake Development Limited Partnership
Clinton Phillips  Council Chief, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake
Debbie Morris  Associate Director, Lands Unit, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake
Diane McDonald  Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council
Paul Denechezhe  Councillor, Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation

4:50 p.m.

Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council

Diane McDonald

I can speak to it because I've worked on it for 10 years and I'm very familiar with it and the communities, including one of my colleagues there.

As I said earlier in my presentation, this was originally a partnership with the Province of Saskatchewan, its Ministry of Environment, and its actually one of the unique partnership agreements that we've been able to negotiate. The land use plan came about because of the dredging of Lake Athabasca. There's no more barging of the goods and services into the region. So part of it was the negotiation of the Athabasca seasonal road, which Anne spoke to earlier.

One of the conditions that our elders and leaders had agreed to in the past was that a land use plan be developed so that we could manage the lands and resources. I say this because roads lead to resources. Certainly we know the resources in the Athabasca are rich and there are a lot of opportunities for interest groups to come up. And part of it is so that we don't have infringements on our aboriginal treaty rights.

Part of that was one of the conditions for our entering into an agreement with the province. The province actually sat at our table while we developed the draft land use plan. It got boycotted by industry, where industry didn't want additional layers of rules applied to them because they felt they had the right and free consent to access the resources. This is our traditional territory and we understand that we have rights too and that we need to protect those rights.

Certainly we're not saying that we're against development, but we'd like to have a balanced approach in how we want to manage the lands and how it benefits our people in the north.

One thing is looking at our housing, as I'm sure Rob knows. Having been in our communities, he understands the living conditions of our people and the programs and the facilities we have. We're lacking all of these things that our cousins are saying they have, the paved roads and recycling bins. We don't have those kinds of things, and we're asking for them so that we can prosper economically. We don't have offices like this; we have shacks.

A land use plan could actually address a lot of the social and economic issues for us, and that's the reason we've entered into those agreements with the province. Certainly it would be great to renegotiate a new agreement, including with the federal government, and work on something that would be beneficial to the people in the Athabasca.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you.

Thank you very much, Mr. Boughen.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

So I'm out of time, Chair?

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Yes, I do apologize. The time flies when you're up.

We're going to turn to Mr. Bevington, who'll be splitting his time with Ms. Hughes.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

I wanted to carry on a little with the environmental issues, because I know they're very important to you. One of the issues I was interested in is what's happening with the air pollution from the oil sands, the acid rain issues with your lakes in northwestern Saskatchewan. Have you seen that kind of thing going on?

4:55 p.m.

Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council

Diane McDonald

We've seen changes over the years, especially on the lake where the border is. You can look at the map in Chief Tsannie's presentation. The water used to be nice and clear on the Saskatchewan side, but now the discolouration is actually coming much closer, towards Camsell Portage. Based on our people who actually go out on the land and the lakes—because people are out there during the summers all the time—we can see that coming into our region.

The thing is, you know, our winters are changing. With climate change, we're faced with warmer temperatures. One of the things is that acid rain does a lot of damage to the environment, and certainly that's a real key concern for us, because we still live off the land. We still eat the fish. We still eat the moose and the caribou, you know. How much of that from the acid rain is actually going to infringe on our rights?

Certainly, one of the other pristine places, just west of Fond du Lac, is the Athabasca sand dunes. It's a rare place with rare species of plants, and certainly there's economic opportunity there. I think it's something that's so pristine that we have to make sure to maintain that wilderness park and keep it in place.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Mrs. Hughes.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Thank you.

I want to welcome you here as well. I appreciate having an elder here. I have a lot of respect for that.

I have a couple of questions with respect to the contaminated lands. I'm just wondering about this, because I'm assuming that most of those contaminated lands.... You talked about the golf course, and I'm not sure about the impact on your side; but has there been any commitment from the federal government to assist you in cleaning up those lands? If there was, how long ago was that? Have there been negotiations with the federal government on that part of it?

5 p.m.

Associate Director, Lands Unit, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Debbie Morris

There has been no commitment. At this point in time, there are studies carried out around a water monitoring program, but that's basically it right now. So we are still faced with the dilemma of those contaminated lands and what it's doing to our health.

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

You talked about eight sites?

May 15th, 2012 / 5 p.m.

Associate Director, Lands Unit, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

And on your first nation, Ms. McDonald?

5 p.m.

Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council

Diane McDonald

Well, a lot of these lands are off reserve but they are within our traditional territory.

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Okay.

5 p.m.

Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council

Diane McDonald

We live off these lands. Certainly, there are 43 abandoned sites within the region, and maybe a couple that.... I think Fond du Lac may have one on the reserve.

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Do you have any outstanding ATRs as well?

5 p.m.

Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council

Diane McDonald

Pardon me?

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Do you have any outstanding ATRs—additions to reserve lands?

5 p.m.

Land-Use Coordinator, Prince Albert Grand Council

Diane McDonald

Yes, Fond du Lac does and Hatchet Lake does, and I think Black Lake does. They all do.

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

So how long have you been waiting for yours to finalize?

5 p.m.

Associate Director, Lands Unit, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Debbie Morris

Well, as I was saying earlier, the one along the Highway 30 area has just been initiated within the past year.

There is another one for a very small piece of property on our western end. That has been going on for three years. We've been faced with issues like the mayor of the community there wanting to change it, and not give us this piece but to give us another piece.... It's very ridiculous, to the point where she had her workers take down the “Kahnawake” sign in her municipality. Things like that are going on, so it's quite disheartening.

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

In your communities, Chief, with respect to the ATRs—the addition to reserves—how long have you been waiting for the process to take place? Are you near completion?

5 p.m.

Chief, Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation

Chief Bartholomew J. Tsannie

For Hatchet Lake, we're in the process now, but we're not going to know for maybe another two or three years, or something....

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

When did you start the process?

5 p.m.

Chief, Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation

Chief Bartholomew J. Tsannie

Probably about...? When was it?