TEK elders group to hold meeting with province on aerial spraying concerns

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MASSEY – The Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) elders group has waited a long time to have a meeting with the province to discuss their concerns with the government allowing aerial spraying on Robinson-Huron Treaty area lands—a meeting that will now take place.

“As for our next step in all of this, we are waiting for a meeting with the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF),” said TEK group spokesperson Ray Owl late last week. “A MNRF representative called me yesterday. We’ve been waiting six years to get a meeting with the ministry.” He pointed out four dates later this month are being considered for the meeting. 

Mr. Owl pointed out TEK elders had met with representative of the Chiefs of Treaty Nine to discuss their court fight against the government allowing aerial spraying on Robinson-Huron Treaty area lands. “It was a good meeting and everything went according to what we expected, but no we didn’t agree to work together on this issue. They are going to deal with the MNRF based on historical agreements they had made with the ministry in their area and negotiate with them. We do agree on some of the same items.” 

Mr. Owl said regardless of the upcoming meeting his group has with the province “we are going ahead with our court challenge. All the BCRs (band council resolutions) have gone out to each First Nation band council within our area (including Manitoulin Island) and once these are signed and councils pass resolutions we can go ahead.” 

As has been reported previously, the TEK elders group has given its unanimous support of the court action being taken in regards to the use of aerial spraying of herbicides by provincial and federal ministries within the treaty area. They say TEK will be going to court to force the government to live up to promises made and signed in the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850 which guaranteed First Nations the right to hunt, fish and gather berries and use plant medicines in traditional territories. The Constitution Act of 1982 reaffirms those rights and the elders contend that these rights are being violated by aerial spraying being carried out on their land without consultation or input from First Nations.