Cottagers and Indians - CBC Documentary



This documentary will feature the ongoing struggle between James Whetung and the shoreline residents of the southern part of PigeonLake. 

We encourage everyone to watch the documentary and make their own assessment and place their comments on the website and CBC’s.

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Save Pigeon Lake committee

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18 thoughts on “Cottagers and Indians - CBC Documentary”

  1. I just watched the documentary online. Wow Larry and his wife are better people than me. I would have had everyone calling the police repeatedly on Mr Whetung for harrassment until he was ordered to keep away. And then banded together with my neighbours to dredged the lake and called it a harvest.

  2. Good Day,

    Like others who have commented publicly on the website, we too were very disturbed not only by James Whetung but also his “girlfriend” who appears extremely unstable. We live on Pigeon Lake, it is our home we are not cottagers and have been here since 1978. The documentary whether intentionally or not has portrayed James Whetung to be an unstable individual who has a vindictive nature and a personal vendetta. After the airing of this we can’t possibly see how it has helped him in any way.

    You have our support to carry on the fight, but please keep safe. Don’t be passive, there is a problem with our society if we have no rights and we are willing to come to compromise.

  3. As many have already reiterated on here, I’m super disappointed by the lack of leadership at the federal level to address this issue. Moreover, disturbed with the actions of Mr. Whetung.
    It’s disappointing that once again Racism is a topic in an Ontario, Canadian, documentary. Racism is a belief that one group is superior to others (Ontario Human RIghts Commision , n.d.). This issue we are having regarding the seeding has nothing to do with this. I would have the same feelings if ANYONE was doing the harm that Mr.Whetung (and girlfriend) are doing to our lakes. It’s sad that more thought and research didn’t happen before individuals spew the word. Otherwise, I would gladly have informed anyone who asked that my parents are immigrants, I’m married in a bi-racial marriage and I’m Canadian. My kids, like Taylor, will always be labeled as mixed-race (more over a “visible minority”) and I’m proud to be Canadian living in such a melting-pot. Born and raised here and loving Pigeon Lake.
    As many people have mentioned the title is a bit skewed because I would say it’s more local’s then cottagers. Locals first hear Mr.Whetung, any day of the week (cottagers aren’t really around on week days), harvesting from his commercial air boat (hear him from miles away) and then you see him pass your dock dangerously close. Then to top it off, some times some colourful language and hand “signs”. It breaks my heart to know my parents who have worked their whole lives, starting from nothing – literally - to provide for myself and my sister, now cannot enjoy their retirement with their grandchildren playing in the very water’s which we played in when we were kids because of safety. I wouldn’t want any kids to hear the colourful language OR by accident be mulled over by a vehicle which doesn’t have traditional “steering” nor does it have breaks/reverse or stopping on a dime capabilities. A review of air boating accident reports in Florida indicates that 65% of the accidents were collisions with a fixed object or another airboat. Thankfully we don’t have many airboats as Florida, I personally don’t understand how you would be able to enjoy mother nature with noise cancelling headphones. If anything, the high decibel noise from the air boat, can damage cells and membranes in the cochlea (being raised with your Dad in the Medical Hearing industry makes you very aware of many do’s and don’ts). That being said, I rather be proactive, keep everyone safe — out of the water, and avoid any confrontation with someone who is a loose cannon. Circling back, I hope after 9 years (and counting) of asking our government for action, something will soon be done. We follow the laws, pay our taxes. The lake is large enough for both our needs, compromise will – I believe – solve all our concerns. Once again thank you Larry & Marilyn for being the “face” for all of us.

  4. Hi there Larry,
    we watched the episode on CBC and I must admit I was disappointed at the end.
    There really wasn’t any kind of conclusion made at all and moreover they treated it like a reality show.

    I did come to a conclusion that the problem statement from both sides is wrong.

    The only native population that we need to protect is the water and fowl species in our lakes.
    From their point of view, there are two kinds of “humans”.
    1) Those who exploit the lakes for economic purposes
    2) Those who use & in some cases abuse the lakes for recreation and living

    Any commercial business use of the lakes should be assessed for impact to the local and migratory species and the environment.
    Has the conservation authority made any statements as far as Commercial Rice Farming impacts to the ecosystems ?

    You absolutely have to address and diffuse the premise presented in that CBC show.
    Building a strategy around a sympathetic message and targeting social media might be your best shot at effecting real change.

    Best regards,

  5. We are in our late 80’s and watching this documentary terrified us, Mr. Whetung is a renegade Indian ( your title ) which is what makes this so frightening. He is not interested in any compromise because he has been able to do what ever he wants and is only interested in ruining our lakes and the personal properties around homes, especially the home of Larry Wood, when he seeded in front of Larry’s home and then raised a finger and laughed. Our government really needs to open there eyes and get on the ball with this. Please save our lakes. I repeat Mr. James Whetung Is a true renegade racist Indian and that makes him very frightening.

  6. Well, I watched the program prepared to have some empathy for both sides. However, I found James Whetung’s position to be intolerant to any kind of compromise which was to me, disturbing. There has to be a meeting point of give and take and he, according to his own words in this production is not prepared to do. Surely the native Indians do not need to plant that much seed. As I understand it, the treaty gives them the right to plant wild rice using the original format and harvest with canoes and nets. This is not what’s happening today. It’s time for the governments and the Trent Severn waterways to step in and force a ruling that is mutually beneficial for both cottagers and the native Indians. Life is too short for this kind of impasse!! B Blair Pigeon Lake

  7. Interesting documentary. The main message we received from this documentary is there is one native individual who is determined to seed more for revenge than practical needs. He is irrational and will not stop even if the governments make it illegal for him to seed. I hope that cooler heads prevail but I am certain that this individual will never be more than a racist native.

  8. Hi Larry,
    The Documentary unfortunately leads me to believe we are a long way apart to ever get this wild rice resolved. An Article in the Kawartha news today also has him speaking about his rights, and goes on to say when we clear around our docks he will keep seeding until it takes.

    Not sure what power it will take to come to a compromise…..
    You have worked so hard, and we so much appreciate it. I use to live at the house at the end of your Road past Mr. Howe, and now live across the lake. I cannot believe how the water has failed over our years of living on Pigeon Lake.
    We thank you for everything!
    Sherry Wilson and Len Dawson

  9. Hello;

    I found the documentary quite objective. I think Mr. Whetung and his spouse displayed quite a vindictive and selfish position. They are changing an ecosystem for personal gain which is how much of our environment gets compromised and altered to the detriment of us all.

    Best regards,

    ~Suzanne Cody, CPA

  10. I missed it on TV but watched it on my computer through this link.
    You deserve a lot of credit for keeping your cool.
    It is a disgrace that our government lets certain groups ignore the laws that apply to the rest of us.
    Bruce Curl

  11. I thought it was one sided, disgusting and that Larry got sucked in by the network. The worst part was down at the boat ramp and the journalist walked over to the passenger window of James Whetung’s truck and said through the window “ do you go through this everyday “? and James said “YES”. That told me where this supposed impartial journalist stood. James Whetung said himself he’s out to plant and plug this lake especially Larry Wood.
    It’s always about the money


  12. Hello

    I watched the CBC POV documentary, I was totally astounded by Mr. Whetung and his wife openly and intentionally being confrontational. They are planting more rice then they can harvest and in areas only used to irritate and aggravate and put at risk residents of the area.

    This action and approach only undermines all good and reconciliation actions. It puts all native issues in poor perspective and hurts everyone.

    The government has been slow to act and should be ashamed of a lack of a favourable and mutually acceptable solution.

    I cannot understand or accept a rogue native destroying any opportunity for mutual cohabitation.

    Unfortunately I believe our current government doesn’t have the integrity to act responsibly and has shown its inability to make decisions.

    Terry Wilson
    Sent from my iPhone

  13. On Jul 7, 2020, at 7:59 PM, Jeff Clark wrote:

    Mr Whetung,

    Writing this email in response to the CBC documentary that I recently had the opportunity to watch. I am a Metis male who is proud of my heritage, and appreciate the many ways of life that Canadians live.

    My Grandfather built a cottage by hand in 1956 in the Whiteshell Provincial Park, along the Manitoba and Ontario border. The beautiful lake had a small amount of wild rice on it. It was harvested regularly by people of aboriginal heritage. It was quite interesting for us to watch from the front porch of our family cottage.

    The documentary was quite well done, my hat off to the producer. Unfortunately you really shot yourself in the foot by the unnecessary stunt that you did at the end. Flexing your arms and purposely seeding in front of a persons cottage, especially as a show of force is not the way to reconcile past harms. Be a man, and work with, not against, others that live around us.

    Jeff Clark

  14. Watched the CBC POV DOC “Cottagers and Indians” this past weekend. I am very disappointed by the lack of leadership at the federal level to address this issue. The road to compromise seems well lit, certainly by the position taken by the “cottagers”, who have been nothing if not cooperative and agreeable to a sensible plan for wild rice management that works for everyone. It’s clear that one individual is the problem here, James Whetung, and I would hope that his attempt to associate this with long held grievances would not be supported by more forward thinking First Nations representatives. It’s clear he’s on a personal vendetta, planting more rice than he can harvest and using commercial methods, to make this shared waterway unusable to the majority of “constituents”. It’s an embarrassment to the Curve Lake First Nations and any jurisdictional authorities involved in this dispute that it has gotten to this point. And it’s clear it’s only going to get worse as James expands his operation without any restraints.

    Bill Kent
    Living the dream in Buckhorn..

  15. The Documentary was disturbing with the actions of Mr. Whetung… I felt we have made no progress. He and his significant other with their smirking attitude was si disrespectful! To target Larry and his Wife is criminal…. What do we do next. We live further south and across the lake from The Woods. Our shoreline over the past 10 years in particular has declined completely, even the fish struggle. I was left feeling so helpless after watching the performance of someone out of control.

  16. This Documentary is very disappointing and disturbing. It has shown me and the nation that Whetung is actually the racist here. Taylor has just done a Documentary that portrays Curve Lake people in the wrong way because of one man. It’s unfortunate. It upset me to see him and his girlfriend spitefully throwing rice at the Dock of the homeowners that have been trying to get an agreement now for years. And to make things worse at the end Taylor stuck his head in Whetungs truck to support this spiteful friend of his. Taylor does not even have the knowledge of the people that live on Pigeon Lake. Majority of them live here. They are not cottagers. Taylor and Whetung live on Curve Lake which is pretty far from Pigeon Lake but they don’t mention that. The people at Curve Lake don’t want him clogging up their lake either. As shown in Documentary.

  17. Clearly this broadcast shows Mr. Whetung’s renegade mentality. Mr Whetung has no respect or concern for how he impacts local home owners or the environment. He is a very mean and vengeful personality that feels his aboriginal status offers entitlement to disregard the rules or regulations of today. The title of this broadcast is very misleading as there are more permanent homes (local people) effected by this then cottage properties. The rights and the protection of home values of these local people is of equal importance as the rights derived from the interpretation of a 150 year old treaty. Mr. Whetung’s INTERPRETATION of this treaty with respect to wild rice seeding fails to consider the evolution of society and the environmental impact today.
    No canadian citizen should be allowed to alter public landscape without the consent and support of that locality, regardless of their race.

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