The Honourable Doug Ford
Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs of Ontario
M7A 1A1 October 8, 2018-10-05
I would like to address the issue of waste created by a resident of the Curve Lake Reserve, namely Mr. James Whetung’s rice fields in Pidgeon Lake, as well as in several other Kawartha Lakes. We have been living, not just cottaging, on the South East shore of Pigeon Lake since June of 1994.
The waste issue has been overlooked within the greater issues with Mr. Whetung revolving around the Williams treaty of 1923. (I refer you to the attached letter by Mr Larry Wood to The Hon Justin Trudeau Prime Minister).
Since I was a kid growing up in Germany, I’ve always had empathy for the plight of the North American Indigenous People. So I can state right here that I support him in his endeavour to pass on the tradition of harvesting the wild rice in their traditional way, to his people and others who are interested.
However, I take great issue with the manner in which he’s going about it.
He has voiced his intentions to seed most of the lakes within the boundaries of the Williams Treaty.
In 1994 there was no evidence of any rice any where near us. We understand that in 2011 there were approx. 200 acres, today there are in excess of 1500 acres, and there seems to be no end in sight. This begs the question: how much rice does he need to traditionally harvest it by canoe? He has thrown tradition out the window. He is harvesting using an airboat, typically used in the Florida everglades. A most noisy piece of equipment.
At the end of harvest sason a lot of his dying crop disintegrates and washes up on our shores. These mats of waste consist of strands of thick and very strong rice grass which has been uprooted by wave action as well as by adjasent boat trafic. Most of these strands are 8ft. long, knitted and woven together into a mass thick enough to touch bottom, which is 3 to 4 ft. deep at our shore. They can reach out to 50ft. from shore.
Once the heavy job of forking it out of the water is donewe have to get rid of it. Fortunately we have a place on our property where we can dump it. If we did not have this space we would have to truck it to the dump and pay for doing so.
I am 75 years old, my wife is 71. I have Parkinson’s Disease. To get rid of this mess is a big job, as witnessed by the attached photos. This is not a onetime thing, but rather has to be repeated several times throughout the season.
I remember one member of our Initiative telling me that once he confronted Mr. Whetung about the clean up, he was told that he should just hire some of
Mr. Whetung’s neighbours to do it! In effect he is running a commercial enterprise, and as such, he should abide by some rules that I’m sure his mother must have taught him, namely one being: clean up after yourself!
The option of just leaving them in the water is not tenable. It doesn’t take long for the whole thing to turn into stinking, rotting mess right into winter. In the spring once the ice is gone, we find the lake bottom in front of us all covered in the remains of last years mess.
He is running a commercial business, Black Duck Wild Rice, and by all indications not very well. He is a one man show, concentrating on playing in the mess he’s creating on the waters, making it very unpleasant for the rest of us.
Pat and I are not by a long shot the only ones affected by this man’s behaviour.
May I referr you to the “Save Pidgeon Lake” web site www.savepigeonlake.com
Mr. Larry Wood, Spokesperson for the “Save Pigeon lake Initiative” has been in touch with all levels of Government since 2011, without any success in gaining help regarding this problem. When contacted, Hon. Maryam Monsef, our MP has shown little interest. I’m afraid Mr. Whetung’s attitude does not bode well for the Reconcilliation Process underway in Canada at this very moment.
It is for this reason I am writing you now, to respectfully appeal to you to put some weight of your office onto this matter.
Thank you for your consideration.
Member – Save Pigeon Lake Initiative