“We will not give another inch” – Eugene Bannon

163
wind farm development
This is a picture from a wind turbine construction site at Backbone Mountain, Tucker County, West Virgina. - Photo from FNMEP

wind farm development
This is a picture from a wind turbine construction site at Backbone Mountain, Tucker County, West Virgina. - Photo from FNMEP

Thunder Bay – Special to NNL – We, the Anishinabek peoples of Fort William First Nation, have had their most of lands and much of our way of life taken from us by settler society. Indeed, more than 8,600 acres of land has been taken by settler society for settler projects since we established our reserve – we are literally surrounded by lands that have been destroyed by settler projects. Because of this, we live with all the problems consistent with colonial oppression, including social, psychological, environmental and political pathologies. Due to this legacy, WE WILL NOT GIVE ANOTHER INCH.

The legacy of settler society feeling a sense of entitlement to our lands continues today in the form of Horizon Wind Inc.’s planned encroachment onto our traditional territory and within our reserve lands. Horizon Wind Inc.’s “Big Thunder Wind Park” threatens the Anishinabek of Fort William First Nation in at least the following three ways:

The proposed location for the Wind Park is in prime moose habitat. Our reliance on moose for physical and spiritual sustenance depends on healthy moose habitat surrounding Loch Lomond lake. We have seen time and again that settler projects that meet provincial and/or federal standards do little to protect our sacred relationship to moose and other animals. We gain our identity from relationships to our lands and our animal relatives; though this relationship is hard for settler society to understand, we are ready to protect it. We will not let another settler project compromise moose habitat in our traditional territory.

In addition to the Wind Park’s direct impact on moose habitat (through construction and land-use during the life of the project), the Wind Park will make our traditional territory even more accessible to settlers. We know well that settlers do not respect Anishinabek land (as evidenced by the current state of environmental racism we face today); we expect that this project will increase the number of settlers misusing our traditional territory, as the project will increase road access to sites we hold as sacred, such as Loch Lomond lake and our mountains, among others. Horizon Wind Inc.‘s project impacts statement fails to understand or include an articulation of how the Big Thunder Wind Park project will contribute to the entrenchment of colonialism in our territory.

Finally, the proposed power line “Electrical Tapline Phase 2 Option 1” is planned to transect Fort William First Nation lands. In addition to the direct habitat destruction the would result from this “Option” in the form of cleared land and on-going maintenance throughout the life of the project, we expect the tapline to, again, facilitate settler use of our land, which can only bring more habitat degradation. For example, a 2006 mapping project conducted by the Anishinabek of the Gitchi Gami Environmental Programs (a community-based group in Fort William First Nation), found that all roads/trails accessible by motorized vehicles facilitated environmental impacts in the form of garbage and toxic waste dumping. In addition to this, we expect that settlers would use such access ways to penetrate our lands further. Horizon Wind Inc. cannot guarantee that settlers would not use such taplines, and therefor we will not permit a project with such little accountability. Again, we are concerned with how this project would serve to entrench colonialism in our community.

Given these concerns, we will not give another inch to settler projects in our reserve lands or our traditional territory. The colonial encroachment and occupation of Anishinabek lands must stop now if we, the Anishinabek of Fort William First Nation, are to live our lives in a way that respects our own teachings and values.

Eugene Bannon