Wabigoon Lake (google image)
The following article was in North West Ontario News by
Jan 22, 2024
The chief of the Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation would like to see a bit of a replay of a historic park protest, nearly 50 years later.
Chief Jeff Copenace said Friday in an interview with Dougall Media that he wants to see a peaceful occupation of Anicinabe Park happen on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day.
“We’re calling on both First Nations and non-Indigenous people that if you’re against the burial of nuclear waste in Treaty 3 and near (lakes), then come and occupy Anicinabe Park.
“If you’re tired of all of the deaths and the funerals after funerals in First Nation communities across the country, then come and occupy Anicinabe Park.
“If you’re tired of the lack of health services that exist, then come and occupy Anicinabe Park with us.”
Copenace emphasized that the occupation would be “peaceful and non-violent – really a bit of a civil rights movement approach to quite frankly just saving the young lives of our First Nations people.”
The Ojibway Warrior Society occupied the Kenora park for six weeks in July-August 1974 as a protest against injustices faced by Indigenous peoples. The occupiers had firearms but the occupation ended peacefully.
The industry-funded Nuclear Waste Management Organization is considering a Northwestern Ontario site near Ignace and Wabigoon Lake for a deep-underground repository for spent nuclear fuel. It is slated to make its site decision near the end of the year.
Copenace said his community southeast of Kenora is “strongly against” the nuclear disposal plan.
“That’s the direction of all of our elders,” he said. “That’s the direction of our young people. They don’t want to see nuclear waste buried in our backyard.
“It’s also very much the position of a lot of non-Indigenous white people, our friends and our families and our nearby municipalities.
“They don’t want to see nuclear waste buried, and certainly they also don’t want to see cyanide and mercury from nearby mines contaminating our lakes and fresh waters and our food supply as well.”
More information on the hoped-for occupation is forthcoming, he said.