Lorraine Liberty-WhiteDuck in 2015 (3)

Lorraine Liberty-Whiteduck

Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod.

Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod.

By Kelly Anne Smith

Nipissing First Nation will host information meetings for citizens to get informed about the proposed Energy East Pipeline to get tarsand product from Alberta to the east coast.

The pipeline is back in the spotlight with the mayor of Montreal recently filing an injunction against the project. Now Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon is calling it a threat to their way of life.

The mayor of the city neighbouring Nipissing First Nation, Al McDonald, says no to any threat to North Bay’s drinking water that comes from Trout Lake. “My opinion has not changed; we must protect our drinking water. When people turn on their tap, they want to see clean pure water, not an oil slick.”

Principal geoscientist at THEIA Geoanalytics, Steve Courtney calculates 966 streams and watercourses and 140 rivers and lakes could be at risk in Ontario.

They include: Lake of the Woods, Lake Nipigon, Lake Superior, Lake Temagami, Lake Nipissing, Trout Lake, Lake Talon, Ottawa River, Mattawa River, and the Petewawa, Black River, Abitibi, Muskeg, Kapuskasing, Missinabi ,Mattawikia ,Nagagami, Nipigon rivers.

Concerned citizens in North Bay held an event Saturday to fundraise for an awareness campaign against the proposed Energy East Pipeline.

Spokesperson Jim Sinclair says the ultimate goal of the Resistance Cabaret is to fund the billboard sign on Hwy 17 heading into North Bay and seen beside Trout Lake. It reads “Oil and water don’t mix.”

“We have abundant reasons from TransCanada’s previous accidents on various pipelines that belong to them, to be concerned. We have to talk about the larger picture of climate change, speaking out in our own communities to prevent further damage to the planet.”

Maude Barlow is expected for a formal visit in North Bay at the end of April. She has fought for water on the global stage, and won by having the right to clean water recognized by the United Nations.

When she last stood on the shore of Lake Nipissing, calling for a stop to pushing dilbit through an aging pipeline designed for natural gas, she had Nipissing First Nation Elder Lorraine Liberty-Whiteduck beside her.

Liberty-Whiteduck is the grandmother who has been blessing the waters of the two important lakes nestling North Bay and Nipissing First Nations for many years. She says it is the duty of all of us to protect the water for seven generations to come.

“Don’t give up!” Liberty-Whiteduck says. “We can’t give up! The corporations put the fear into people and stop them from speaking out.

“The lakes are needed. The water must be protected forever. Clean water is everything.”

Nipissing’s Chief McLeod says Lake Nipissing could be at risk with Duchesnay Creek and the Little Sturgeon River becoming contaminated by a potential pipeline breech.

“TransCanada has a responsibility to consult with First Nations. We have received funding from them to set-up community meetings to inform our members what the pros and the cons are for our citizens to develop a community position on this.

But if it doesn’t come through on pipeline, how then? The rail bed goes within feet of our lake. And the railway goes through our communities of Duchesney, Yelleck, Beaucage, Meadowside and Veteran’s Lane.

From First Nation to First Nation, it may vary what the issues are.”

Chief McLeod wants to talk about green energy. The former Chief oversaw the installation of solar panels on the roof over the community centre/Nbisiing Secondary School and Nipissing Police Service. Chief McLeod says Former Chief Marianna Couchie’s vision of having more solar panels that directly power the citizens isn’t that farfetched. “Nipissing is seen as a leading community so we should look at leading the way in green energy. Why can’t we have energy fuel stops for electric cars?”

Further information:  The Ontario Indigenous Women’s Water Commission (OIWWC)