SON Environment Office Update: Summer 2020

Aanii, Boozhoo! 

It has been awhile since our office has posted or shared with you, the SON Communities, our neighbours, and allies. Our office has been adjusting to and riding the wave of challenges and opportunities that have been flowing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to begin with expressing my sincere hope that each of you, your families and extended families have kept healthy and in good spirits and have had the support and tools needed to move through this challenging time.

While our families, businesses, Council, and other government/organizations have been closed and/or managing in different ways these past few months, things have been moving at a slower pace than usual. However, I wanted to share a few important items that I thought the SON Communities would be interested in hearing about.

  1. OPG has formally withdrawn its application for the DGR at the Bruce Site in SON Territory. 

As a result of your engagement and participation in the SON Community Decision Making process vote on the DGR and the resulting vote of NO to the DGR – OPG has formally cancelled the project.

We have received MANY letters and emails from our People and our Allies around the Great Lakes thanking YOU the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Communities for exercising your rights and your voice and for saying “NO” to OPG’s DGR Project. We will share some of these letters in a post very soon.

You can read OPG’s letter to the Federal Environment Minister formally withdrawing the Project here:

LINK:https://www.cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca/eng/resources/status-of-new-nuclear-projects/deep-geologic-repository/index.cfm

 

  1. The Saugeen Ojibway Nation Coastal Waters Monitoring Program has begun its second year of Monitoring in the SON Coastal Territorial Waters!

In 2019, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Environment Office began the SON Coastal Waters Monitoring Program as a way to begin a powerful exercise of both connecting with and understanding more about the fragile and special coastal waters and wetlands of the SON Territory.

For 2020, we had originally planned to begin in early spring with sampling for larval fish (baby fish) and installing 40 (20 more than 2019) temperature loggers across the Territory. Due to COVID-19 we were delayed and missed the spring. Our Coastal Waters crew begun working back in the lake a few weeks ago and have already begun setting up our temperature loggers in the waters, and sampling for fish and turtles in the nearshore waters of the Territory.

Check out this beautiful video created by one of our environmental technicians, Emily Mansur (Neyaashiinigmiing), that summarizes the work that was completed in 2019.

Once we have a few years of data we will be able to understand more about how the health of the environment of the Territory, how/where it is changing, what might be causing those changes, and work to rehabilitate and stop any changes that are impacting the health of the waters, fish and wildlife.

If there are any areas in the Territory that you are interested in or concerned about, please let us know and we will add the location to our long list of sites across the Territory.

Very soon we will be sharing our 2019 Summary Report. This report will be an overview of the work that was done, and the knowledge that was gained. There will be another report where we explain more about what all of this information means. For example, we will be looking at the moon phases and see what our data shows us about the relationship between fish and the phases of the moon. We will also be looking at how the amount of vegetation, water temperatures, and water quality impacts the number and species of fish in a given habitat. We are looking forward to sharing all of this with the SON Communities and getting your feedback and questions.

 

There is a lot more coming up this year and we are working on a plan for how we can improve our Communications and engagement with the SON Communities.

We will be launching a new website in the coming weeks. Our new website will have a “SON members only” portal, where we will be able to share information meant for SON Community members only. There will also be chat boards and forums where you can ask questions and engage with the information, other Community members, videos and other resources. 

 

COMING SOON 

  1. NWMO High-Level Waste DGR Process

As many of you will be aware, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has acquired lands in the SON Territory, near Teeswater, to explore the potential for a DGR for the long-term storage of high-level waste (used nuclear fuel).

As with OPG’s DGR Project, NWMO has confirmed SON’s consent decision making on this Project and that they will not proceed unless the SON Communities consent to the Project. 

In order for you to make a decision about this Project, we need to walk down that path of getting ourselves informed – together. Becoming informed takes many forms and includes many different types of information. For some of us, being informed will mean reading all available information, watching informational videos, and/or participating in Community Information Sessions held both by SON and by NWMO. Being informed also means we consult and consider the perspectives and knowledge of others in our circles and Communities (our elders, family, friends that we trust). Being informed also means consulting with / connecting with Spirit (in whatever ways that resonates for you).

We will be sharing more information about NWMO’s Project as soon as possible. We are looking for the best ways to engage people, maintain social distancing, and keep people’s health and wellness as a priority.

Please send us your feedback on how you will look to be engaged and the best ways for us to share and engage you in this information.

For more information on NWMO’s Project and process, go to: www.nwmo.ca and https://www.nwmo.ca/en/Site-selection/Study-Areas/South-Bruce

 

  1. Medical Isotopes Information Sessions 

In 2019, we introduced the SON Communities to the partnership that the SON Joint Chiefs and Councils entered into with Bruce Power to produce life-saving medical isotopes at the Bruce Power site.

We received a lot of positive feedback on this initiative, and also lots of questions about the initiative, and about medical isotopes specifically (their medical applications, safety, research, availability, etc.). Since our Community sessions in 2019, we have continued to work on the government funding aspect of the Project. We have also worked with Saugeen and Nawash Community members to develop a Logo and name in Anishnaabemowin that we will be sharing with you very soon!

On July 22 we will be hosting back-to-back live webinars for each of Saugeen and Nawash, that will feature the SON Joint Chiefs, Bruce Power VP James Scognack, a medical professional, and myself.

We will be sharing more information about these sessions in the coming days. I hope that you participate and use the opportunity to learn and to ask any questions that you may have.

See more about the medical isotopes partnership here:

www.fightingcancertogether.ca 

 

  1. Legacy Issues Process with OPG 

As many of you know, even though SON voted NO on the proposed DGR there are still 50 years of the legacy of nuclear in the SON Territory that must be resolved with OPG. Legacy issues include a variety of items, specifically impacts that the nuclear industry has had on the SON People and the SON Territory during the 50 years of nuclear in the Territory.

A first priority will be the development of a Community Working Group to guide our Legacy Issues discussions, and to brainstorm and problem solve the larger nuclear waste issue in our Territory. This working group will be appointed through an application process. We will be sharing more information about this process in early Fall of 2020.

 

  1. TC Energy’s Pumped Storage Project

In 2019, TC Energy approached the SON Joint Council to begin engagement around TC Energy’s proposed “pumped hydro storage project” at the Department of National Defense Lands near Meaford, ON (also known as “the tank range”). In 2019, the SON Environment Office and TC Energy held separate community information sessions in both Communities.

Since 2019, the SON Joint Council has been considering how best to engage with TC Energy on their proposed project. The Joint Council’s first priority is to protect the SON members’ Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the environmental health of the lands, waters and wildlife in the Territory, while also exploring potential opportunities for partnership if impacts could be reduced.

TC Energy will be beginning their environmental assessments and feasibility assessments later this summer.

More information and an update on this Project will be available soon and we will be planning an information session (virtually) to update the SON Communities.

 

Until Next Time,

Baamaapii!

Kathleen Ryan, Acting Manager

 

 

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