CROSS-PARTY MP GROUP AND OVER 100 CIVIL SOCIETY ORGS DENOUNCE ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM ON MOHAWK TERRITORY

On the eve of the second reading of private member Bill C-226 concerning environmental racism, Elizabeth May is joined by fellow MPs Alexandre Boulerice, Leah Gazan, Mike Morrice, Matthew Green and Niki Ashton as well as over 100 top environmental and social justice groups and major Canadian unions1, who denounce the continued government inaction that allowed the Mohawk territory of Kanehsatà:ke to serve as a dumping ground for unregulated toxic waste for years.

Since 2018, multiple media outlets2 have reported the suspected impacts on the health of local citizens and the water table caused by the G&R Recycling dump and similar spillover sites on Mohawk land in Kanehsatà:ke, Quebec. In 2021, a coalition of Indigenous Land Defenders and settler activists released findings and data revealed through FOI requests3 via their leak site: www.reconciliaction.org. Obtained data confirms that the site contains multiple toxins, long-term threats to water and fauna and that the federal government has known about this since 2019.

“Every level of government, from the Band Council to the Federal Government is practicing a well-rehearsed routine of passing the buck,” explains an Indigenous community activist whose name must be concealed for personal safety concerns. “The community has been frustrated with this issue for years now. And it has been consistently let down by the Government of Canada. This dump is part of a broader pattern of environmental racism, which is itself part of the colonial project of oppressing Indigenous Peoples. Minister Marc Miller has been purposefully indifferent. The Band Council has been equally apathetic and inept. The Province of Quebec has been equally complacent and useless. Their indifference verges on criminal neglect and prolongs our suffering.”

The coalition of Green and NDP MPs, along with allied civil-society organizations, is asking for a long-term solution to the dumping problem in Kanehsatà:ke. Beyond the immediate cleanup of the main site, they seek a legislative approach that recognizes the systemic issue of Indigenous and racialized communities being used as sites for the disposal of toxic waste in ways that mostly-white Canadian communities would never tolerate. Furthermore, at the request of the community’s Indigenous Land Defenders, allies are advocating for full community consultation before any further decisions affecting the health and well-being of Kanehsatà:ke’s residents are made.

“The overlap of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste dumping and Indigenous communities – as well as communities of people of colour and marginalized poor Canadians – cannot be denied. The on-going and illegal dumping on Mohawk territories in Kanehsatà:ke is one deeply troubling example,” observes Elizabeth May. “For three years, the community in Kanehsatà:ke has had their right to live in a healthy environment violated by the Trudeau government, whose representatives have refused time and again to take action in this matter,” adds Alexandre Boulerice, Deputy Leader for the NDP. “The Liberals speak often of climate justice and reconciliation, but every time it counts — like in Kanehsatà:ke — they’re nowhere to be seen. It’s time to go beyond the rhetoric and actually take action in issues of environmental racism.”

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Available for commentary:

MP Elizabeth May (Green Party), contact: Debra Eindiguer, debra.eindiguer@greenparty.ca, 613-240-8921

MP Alexandre Boulerice (NDP), contact: Lisa Cerasuolo,
lcerasuolo@boulerice.org, 514-581-5288

Allied group campaign coordinator, contact: Louis Ramirez, louis.ramirez@protonmail.com, 514 974 5069

References:

1. Full list of allied civil-society organizations here: https://www.reconciliaction.org/groups-groupes

​2. The G&R facility has operated on the Mohawk reserve of Kanehsatà:ke for many years. It has been widely documented in the media, with two recent articles in the Toronto Star, as well as two recent articles in La Presse, and an award-winning exposé in Ricochet Media in September of 2020. Prior to this, articles from La Presse drawing attention to the issue date as far back as July 2018.

​3. Documents accessed through FOI requests accessible here: https://cryptpad.fr/drive/#/2/drive/view/D4ik9tXfxRczpPKB0mzmIlTzgW+xjLdqG7xmgDJoeMU/

​4. Full research synthesis on G&R facility available here: https://www.reconciliaction.org

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