by Harvey Wrightman
Bill Monture is a “traditional living” Mohawk from the 6 Nations First Nation. He along with his son Chuck and another young man, Lester. They sat at a table on the appellant’s side next to Eric Gillespie. They wore prominent, feather-adorned head-dresses which drew one’s attention – and Bill’s boots – a pair of traditional moccasin-style construction – comfortable and light.
There was a motion by the MOE, supported again by NextEra , to dismiss Bill’s appeal on the grounds that it was a copy of the appeal put forth by Haundeshuanee Development Institute – more commonly referred to as the HDI, and that appeal in Mapleton had been dismissed. Mario Faieta was the MOE counsel who carried the ball here.
In his reply, Bill bristled at the inference that he was a copy of HDI – in no way was he part of HDI and he wanted that “on the record.”
Bill’s arguments were that the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18, states that indigenous peoples have the right to be included in the consultation process by way of their own institutions – sadly lacking in the typical wind industry “storyboard” community consultations. It matters not where you’re from in rural Ontario. Both the government and the industry want to sweep us aside as quickly as possible. First Nation status adds no benefit in their eyes.
Bill was able to present the things that Eric was less able to present . He reminded everyone in the room of our duty to respect “mother earth” whose ability to nurture must in turn be nurtured – by all of us. Bill gave voice to the fears that many of us have about the influence and effects that such large, intrusive machines will have on our natural world and how that will affect us directly and indirectly in how it affects “mother earth.”
Sensitivity to impact on the natural world is similar to how it affects human health. “If I go to the doctor and say, ‘Tell me what is wrong with me?’ He cannot do so.” The patient has to give him the information. This was a point so simply and so eloquently made. It is also the crux of Eric’s argument is that the 25 subject/witnesses are an important part of the “expert’ equation. The desire of the MOE and NextEra is to hive-off these people and deny them a voice. They fear hearing from those who know best.
Commenting on the “archeological plowing” that the MOE and companies so proudly proclaim as a way of collecting and archiving artifacts Bill presented a more “traditional” view; which is, that in his culture one doesn’t remove artifacts – you leave them there because they a relics of your ancestors and it is disrespectful to remove them. It was the twists and turns of another view which held our attention and, I think, perhaps, just perhaps the “other side” might gain a bit of insight here.
Speaking to the 3 Panel members Bill said, that our local councils, both municipal and First Nations have all said how “your hands are tied; but, you are the voice of the people.” It really was marvelous. He said the things that so many of us want to be said – not all the “cut and paste” arguments from the government and company about good this project will be for everyone.
As Bill reasoned, “Take the money out and look at the issues with your head and your heart, and then decide.” The gallery loved it and you could have heard a pin drop. – until the applause burst out.