Reconciliation with Williams Treaty First Nations – Is it Possible?

Dear Right Honourable Justin Trudeau Prime Minister

We have read with interest the reconciliation process and the settlement between the Governments of Ontario and of Canada. Of particular interest to us, shoreline stakeholders residing on the shores of Pigeon, Buckhorn and Chemong lakes in the Kawartha’s, is that the harvesting rights of the First Nations remained.

As proud Canadians we respect the need for Reconciliation and hopefully it will move forward in an honourable way, respecting  each other, resulting in a stronger Canada.

Unfortunately, we are concerned that respecting each other and reconciliation may not be possible in the present environment.

We reside near The Curve Lake First Nations Reserve and are quite familiar with the Williams treaties harvesting guide which states; ” First Nations have traditionally harvested for medicine, food, social and ceremonial purposes, including but not limited to harvesting of manomin-wild rice, wiigwaas-birch bark, miinaan-berries, medicinal plants and maple syrup.  The harvesters of the Williams Treaty First Nations recognize the importance of conservation and protection and will only harvest for personal and community use.”

We do not have any issue with the above; however, not all First Nations people who gather wild Rice, honour the Williams Treaty Harvesting guide which brings us to the reason we are requesting your assistance.

Mr. James Whetung of the First Nations Curve Lake Reserve, well known for his quest to fill the lakes with wild Rice, has admittedly seeded the lakes with thousand of lbs of rice expanding the rice fields on Pigeon Lake from approximately 200 acres in 2011 to in excess of 1500 acres today. He harvests the rice to sell commercially on line through Black Duck Wild Rice, as well as to people in markets and to wineries. His method of harvesting (farming) is by an airboat with  a sound decimal exceeding 100.

We have been in contact with all levels of Government since 2011, no action, just promises that their working on solutions. Seven years later still no answers from our Government. The following questions have gone unanswered.

  1. Is it legal to seed Federal Waterways?
  2. Is it legal to harvest rice for commercial purposes?
  3. Is it legal to harvest by mechanical means?

    Please take the time to review our website www.savepigeonlake.com and  the letters below. They will provide you with further insight  as to why we are requesting your assistance.

    We have met with Hon. Maryam Monsef who has shown little interest in our plight and therefore are requesting a meeting with you to explain more clearly our concerns.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Yours truly
    Larry Wood
    Spokesperson- Save Pigeon Lake Initiative

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