As pressure continues to mount against the North Simcoe Landfill, an irresponsible waste dump that “was set up with a 1950s mindset,” a delegation from the Hoskanigetah (Six Nations Men’s Fire of the Grand River) warns about the possible re-opening of another dump site: the Edwards landfill, just outside of Cayuga, Ontario.
According to the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group, “the Edwards landfill contains highly toxic material from an old resin plant in Cayuga which was dumped there in the 1950s, along with other medical, industrial and commercial waste.”
For several years now, members from the Six Nations community have been working alongside the non-native environmental coalition, HALT (Haldimand Against Land Transfers), to make sure no more waste is added to the dump.
Historically, they’ve taken the same approach that activists and the Council of Canadians are now taking with the North Simcoe Landfill: namely, they’ve filed legal challenges and, whenever trucks arrived to pile on more waste, they physically blocked access to the dump site. Fortunately, the trucks always turned back.
Their reason for opposition is straightforward, and too familiar for indigenous people in Canada: There are a number of serious health concerns among people living in the region of the Edwards landfill and several other nearby dump sites believed to hold waste from the former Resin Plan. Concerns that:
- Women living near these sites have premature births.
- Women living near these sites have had miscarriages in either the 1st, 2nd or 3rd trimester.
- Deformities of a physical or mental nature have occurred.
- A disproportionate ratio of male to female birth rates have occurred.
- These sites (including Edwards Landfill) have and still are contaminating aquifers, underground streams, the water table, flooded gypsum mines, the Grand River and other communities down river including the St. Lawrence river system.
- There are possible deformities and/or illness of any kind among livestock by any means through the consumption of food and water and any other means.
- There are possible deformities and/or illness of any kind among household pets.
Commonsense (and basic human rights) tells us that each and every report should be investigated by the government and that the sites themselves, particularly the Edwards landfill, should be remediated.
Unfortunately, like the radar contamination sites effecting the Mushkegowuk Cree Nation, it just hasn’t happened.
And now, the Hoskanigetah warn, preparations appear to be underway for the landfill to receive more waste in the near future.
Responding to the possibility, the Hoskanigetah state that:
- Will not permit reactivation of the Edwards Landfill site located in Cayuga.
- Will undertake the supervision of our own Environmental Review of contamination and its effect on life within Cayuga.
- Will uphold the rites given to us by Shonkwaia’ti:son (The Creator) as protectors of the land.
- Will assert our jurisdiction and Soveriegn rights confirmed, outlined, and guaranteed in perpetuity by the language of the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784, and the Two Row Wampum of 1604.
- Will look to have our concerns…addressed.
CUPE 3903 is also putting together a campaign to stop the dump. They state in their own press release: “there is a very distinct possibility that the garbage that the dump is being prepared for would be Toronto garbage that has been accumulating due to be recent labor dispute in Toronto. If this is indeed the case, then there are some real opportunities to make important links around labor struggles, environmental issues and indigenous sovereignty.”
“In order to get to the dump, the garbage would have to cross CUPE picket lines in Toronto, and be driven by scab labor to the dump on Six Nations lands where people from Six Nations are intending to set up their own picket lines to stop the garbage from entering.
We are still considering possible ways in which to organize against the dump, but for now, the CUPE FNSWG is proposing the following plan of action:
- We encourage all people who are interested in working on this campaign to contact Wes Elliott of the Hoskanigetah at 519-757-5427 (preferably via text messaging) to get more background information about the issue. Please also send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can keep you in the loop about our activities.
- We would encourage you to set up a public meeting to discuss this matter with Hoskanigetah representatives who are willing to travel to your location to talk about ways that alliances can be built on this issue. There will be a meeting on Thursday July 23rd in Hamilton and a meeting in Toronto on Saturday, July 25 at 2pm that the Hoskanigetah will be presenting at. Please contact Wes to set up a meeting in your area. If you have connections with organized labor those will be especially important given the fact that this garbage may be crossing CUPE picket lines.
- If the garbage is coming in to the dump the Hoskanigetah will organize a protest at the Edwards landfill to stop the trucks from entering. This may happen as soon as later this week or early next week. If you are interested in joining the peaceful protests there, please send an e-mail to email@example.com indicating what days of the week and times you would be available to be at the protest site and whether or not you have access to a vehicle with which you could take other protesters.
We also invite you to come to a meeting on Saturday, August 8 at Six Nations as a delegate from an organization that you are affiliated with. Information about this solidarity meeting is available at