By Greg Plain
Aamjiwnaang First Nation members were given the opportunity to see the efforts of the Environment Committee as well as the local Chemical Plants surrounding Aamjiwnaang at “Envirofest”.
There were 25 booths in the Community Centre from the local chemical plants showing their efforts to ensure the plants are moving towards better relations as well as the better treatment of the lands we share.
Kristina Zimmer of Shell refinery an immediate neighbor to the Nation brought out some of the air and noise monitors to show they are doing a better job of ensuring the Aamjiwnaang members are made aware of their efforts to keep both their staff as well as Aamjiwnaang members safe from sounds and chemical contamination. In addition to the technical information they brought out “the Mad Science” to show the chemical reactions created by heating and cooling of sugar and colour to create the treat for the kids (cotton candy).
“It is very important for Shell to participate in opportunities like Envirofest where we can meet community members, provide them with information on our operations and talk about concerns they may have,” said Zimmer. “Aamjiwnaang and Shell are literally located side by side, and it’s critical that we have a relationship where there is continuous two-way dialogue.”
Among the chemical plant booths were various active groups in the Chemical Valley that showed their work on cleanup of the environment by creation of natural plants that are natural to the area. Aamjiwnaang’s Species at Risk group were on hand to show some of the reptiles from the Aamjiwnaang Territory and how they are collecting data on the species and plants that are at risk in the community.
Aamjiwnaang is creating a new greenhouse project for the Nation to grow plants that are native to the area, and once grown they can be replanted throughout the territory. Courtney Jackson is the Project Coordinator for the greenhouse.
“We will start out with plants that are native to the Aamjiwnaang territory,” said Jackson. “But with time and resources we may look to creating vegetables and other food plants if space and time are available.”
While the environment is a key initiative in the community due to the many local chemicals found surrounding the community many of the groups made the effort to make it fun for the Aamjiwnaang Youth by having hands-on activities to create the awareness of the issues but still have a great deal of fun.