Evidence of extensive illegal dumping – including large amounts of asphalt – has been found by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga.
==>Click here to download a booklet ‘In Support of the Mohawks of Tyendinaga’ (Aug 2007)
Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte who have been occupying the quarry site for the past two weeks (since March 2007) became curious about piles of dirt scattered around, which did not line up with clean gravel materials typical of a quarry. Upon closer investigation, it became evident that the quarry owner had pushed piles of dirt over certain areas, in a hasty attempt to cover up burn pits, filled with smashed batteries, oil filters, shingle, construction material. there are at least five such areas within the quarry.
It also appears that the other material which had been disposed of illegally was tonnes of broken pavement, marked with yellow paint, that seem to come from a provincial highway refurbishment project which took place last year – Highway 2 between Deseronto and Napanee. The Province of Ontario would have overseen this project, been obliged to have a Ministry official participating in the project, and also would have been responsible for ensuring that the concrete was trucked to a recycling depot. There is such a depot, but it lies several hours away. the reclaimed quarry, however, is directly adjacent to this stretch of road.
The band council’s environmental officer has been called in and photographs and details have been recorded of the dumping activities. The information has been turned over to the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources – the same Ministry which has, as of yet, refused to revoke the quarry license, and has also remained quiet on the reclamation of the quarry by the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.
Community members are awaiting the response of David Ramsay, Minister of Natural Resources, has to say, now that the crime is not only one of stealing land (literally) from the rightful holders of the Culbertson Tract, but also a crime of polluting and destroying the land that has not been physically removed.
The community also wants the licence for the quarry to be revoked because the land has been stolen, rather than providing an opportunity for the MNR to save face by revoking it on grounds of environmental standards. This is particularly true, it seems, because the quarry itself is substandard, nevermind the illegal dumping activities, and has been allowed to continue functioning without Ministry intervention for years.
Therefore, a short-term solution of suspension pending an environmental assessment, would not be acceptable. The land should be fully returned to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, and nothing less.
Quarry Use on Disputed Culbertson Tract: Mohawk Community Demands End to Stealing of Land Text from Information Leaflet distributed in Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory March 2007
The Culbertson is a tract of land, 923 acres in size that runs along the eastern boundary of Tyendinaga. It was stolen by the Feds in 1837. Tyendinaga’s Chiefs immediately registered their people’s dissent but no formal legal process existed to pursue its return. After the Government finally got around to creating such a process in 1991, Tyendinaga filed a formal land claim.
In November 2003, the Feds acknowledged that the Culberston Tract was never surrendered and is Mohawk Land. They then tried for several years to get Tyendinaga to take a buy-out for the land. The people of Tyendinaga repeatedly refused.
The town of Deseronto falls in the middle of the Culberston claim. The Mayor of Deseronto said that the town’s economic viability and survival depends on the development of Culbertson tract lands and began promoting the land for condos and townhouses late last year. Tyendinaga’s Rotiskenhrakehte successfully stopped development of these lands and the developer publicly abandoned plans for a 30 million dollar project.
However, Thurlow Aggregates continues to operate a Gravel Quarry on Culberston Tract lands. Despite the fact that Tyendinaga has requested its licence be revoked given ongoing negotiations, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources continues to license the quarry for the removal of 150,000 tons of gravel annually. Federal negotiations are clearly in bad faith as they choose to ignore the 850 plus truckloads of Tyendinaga land that are removed every month. In January 2007, Tyendinaga’s Rotiskenhrakehte gave the quarry operator 60 days notice to stop selling off Mohawk land. The time for voluntary closure has lapsed and Tyendinaga has now assumed the burden of closing the gravel pit.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Illegal Dumping Uncovered at Quarry Situated On Mohawk Land
Thursday, April 5th, 2007: Evidence of extensive illegal dumping – including large amounts of asphalt – has been found by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. This discovery was made at the Thurlow Aggregates quarry site, occupied by the Mohawks for the past two weeks. The quarry is situated within the Culbertson Tract, land that is currently under Claim and that the Government has acknowledged rightfully belongs to the Mohawk community of Tyendinaga.
Three days ago, Band Council environment officials were alerted to the situation, documented the disturbing findings, and advised the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources. This Ministry is also responsible for quarry and aggregate licensing, and has until now refused to comment on the demand that Thurlow Aggregates have its licence revoked pending the ongoing land claim negotiations between the Mohawk community and the Canadian government.
The District Manager of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Jane Ireland, of the Peterborough MNR, is expected at the quarry at 12:00 noon today. The Mohawks have said that she will be granted access to the site to view and document the dumping.
“The minister’s office cannot claim it didn’t know. It would be obvious to any inspector what was going on here, including open burning of hazardous materials like industrial batteries, construction waste and oil filters,” said Mohawk Jay Maracle.
“It is now becoming clear why (Minister of Natural Resources) David Ramsay didn’t want to revoke the quarry licence. The Province was using it to dump large amounts of Provincial Highway pavement instead of properly disposing of it,” said spokesman Shawn Brant. “Now, they are responsible for a local environmental catastrophe.”
Press Inquiries, contact: Shawn Brant, Tyendinaga, 613. 391.4055
Follow this link to listen to an interview with Shawn Brant