“If this sacred land is allowed to be developed, it cannot be duplicated in any other part of the world and the future generations will never get to experience what we have experienced in our lifetime.”
An Open Letter from the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force to Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau
Originally Dated March 8th and Posted on Niagara At Large, March 21st, 2017
Honourable Justin Trudeau
Office of Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, On. K1A 0A2
RE: Thundering Waters Forest (Niagara Falls, Ontario
Greetings Honourable Prime Minister Trudeau:
The Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force (HETF) sends you greetings and hopes this letter finds you and your family in good health and spirits and offer the long arm of peace. The Haudenosaunee consist of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora Nations.
The Haudenosaunee Nations have a unique spiritual, cultural, and historic relationship with the land, which is embodied in the Gayananshogowa, the Great Law of Peace. This relationship goes far beyond federal and provincial legal concepts of ownership.
The Haudenosaunee are one with the land and all that inhabit it. It is the Nations’ leadership responsibility to work for a healing of the land, to protect it, and leave it in better condition for the future generations.
The Haudenosaunee know every part of the natural world is important and interrelated. When humans tinker more and more with the natural balance, we do so in peril of the future generations.
The HETF engages in extensive environmental work on behalf of the Haudenosaunee Nations in hope it may hasten the process of reconciliation and bring lasting justice, peace, and respect among all living peoples, plants, medicines, animals, waters, ﬁsh, trees, who live on Turtle lsland which is stated in our Thanksgiving Address.
Whenever the Haudenosaunee gather, we start and end with the Thanksgiving address or what we call the Ganonnio (Opening). The Thanksgiving address is how we see and understand the natural world. It reminds us of our duties and responsibilities, not only to themselves, but also to the natural world and the rest of creation.
The message is simple; as each part of the natural world continues to fulfill its responsibilities, so we as human beings, have our own responsibilities to fulﬁll and maintain the natural world as it should be.
The Haudenosaunee also have a responsibility to uphold the treaties signed with the Nations that extend the arm of peace to co-exist on Turtle Island starting with the Two Row Wampum Treaty.
This treaty was established with the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch in the 17th century, then later on with the United States and Canada. The two row symbolizes two vessels travelling side by side in the river of life, one vessel is represented by a ship (Europeans) and a canoe (Haudenosaunee).
Your people are to live by the laws of the ship and the Haudenosaunee are to live by the laws of the canoe. Neither is to interfere with the others vessel. The waters may become turbulent between our two nations. Our vessels are connected by three links of a chain representing Peace, Unity and Respect and we are to use these three principles to calm the waters between us.
The HETF would like to bring to your attention an issue that is of concern of the Haudenosaunee. The Thundering Waters Site (Also known as the Niagara Falls Slough Forest Site) is a 484 acre old growth Carolinian forest with 220 acres of protected provincial wetlands and the home of many species of risk. It was brought to our attention that a Chinese Firm will develop this sacred land for affordable housing units.
The plan is to develop the forested area and if they don’t get a waiver of the provincial wetlands protection for the wetlands parcel, then they say the development of the forest part will not impact the wetlands area. We know this not to be true because this land is all intricate, complex and woven together. They cannot be separated. One is dependent on the other just like humans are dependent on nature. All the environmental studies do not take into consideration of the history of the land and the cultural resources it possesses.
All of the wildlife is important to the Haudenosaunee, over the past years we have seen many of our brothers and sister disappear from this earth and have mourned their pass. Canada and the United States have enacted ”Species at Risk” legislation to protect various species that are endangered of extinction. This area has many such species.
Government and private studies have identified these species and they are known to your scientist. As the HETF, we are reminding you of your obligation under to the (Two Row) treaty that we have with you to warn you when we see danger in the river life that could harm us both. Your obligations under your own legislation must be clear to you.
Therefore, The Haudenosaunee oppose the development of the Thundering Waters Site and the federal Government recommend not to grant a waiver of provincial wetlands protection for all the reasons stated in this letter. If this sacred land is allowed to be developed, it cannot be duplicated in any other part of the world and the future generations will never get to experience what we have experienced in our lifetime.
Skennen (In peace),
HETF Scientific Co— Chair
CC; Jim Diodati, Mayor of Niagara Falls
John Barnsley, Manager of Policy and Planning
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