THUNDER BAY – GUEST COLUMN – The Hornepayne First Nation Elders have been at the NAN Head Office supported by community members for the past 7-weeks on a sit-in as the NAN Executive Council refuses to respect the community’s vote held on July 10, 2014. This action of NAN’s non-acceptance has created an unjust BARRIER of disrespect of our Sovereign Rights to protect our Traditional Lands from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).
NAN Corporate Services continues to hold a Barrier over Hornepayne First Nations Political Sovereign Rights in protecting of its Traditional Lands from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, without any sort of explanations for NAN’s actions, except for threats of Hornepayne First Nation removal from the NAN First Nation membership:
1.) NAN is aware that Hornepayne First Nation has pre-treaty historical settlements and gravesites on our traditional harvesting territory;
2.) NAN refused to accept the Certified Electoral Reports recording the community’s vote from the independent Electoral Officer Dennis Robinson;
3.) NAN refused to acknowledge the Elders Council Resolution dated September 28, 2014;
4.) NAN has consulted multiple times with the ex-Chief Laura Medeiros since the July 10, 2014 election against the community’s wishes and our sovereignty;
5.) NAN approved NWMO’s Airborne Ariel Surveys Activities in our Traditional Territory in February 2015, against the community wishes and our sovereignty;
6.) NAN continues to refuse to respect our local internal governance processes;
7.) NAN refuses Hornepayne First Nation membership and not allowing to access services or programming; and
8.) NAN influenced its partner Kunuwanimano to cancel our Service Protocol Agreement and remove our Board Representative from the Board of Directors.
We would like to share a strong public quote from Grand Chief Harvey Yesno:
News article excerpt dated July 30, 2014:
Ontario First Nations ready to die defending lands: chiefs ‘Land has become sick’
Grand Chief Harvey Yesno of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation says Ontario’s aboriginal people will put a stake in the ground and tie themselves to it if that’s what it takes to protect their land from unwanted resource development.
“We’re no longer just going to be civilly disobedient. We’re going to defend our lands, and there’s a big difference there,” he said. Our young people are dying, our people are dying. So let’s die at least defending our land.”
NAN makes public statements to the people to protect their land even if the people have to die protecting the land. It seems wrong for NAN to criticize the Elders for their strong public statement and stance in order to protect our Traditional Lands from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and building a Nuclear Repository on the peoples Trap Lines. We are actively harvesting our Ancestral Lands, we need our duly elected Chief, and Council to advocate on our behalf, as it stands we have no one to advocate on our behalf, no one.
The NMWO has taken a public position against Hornepayne First Nation people via the NAN of non-acceptance in order to ignore and disrespect the voice and sovereign rights of the Hornepayne First Nation people to bury nuclear waste in our Traditional Lands.
See the excerpt below from the public minutes:
NWCLC Minutes – August 26, 2014 – NWMO Aboriginal Engagement officer Ray Hatfield:
6.1 B. ABORIGINAL ENGAGEMENT UPDATE – Ray Hatfield-
– Referred to the NAN position of non-acceptance of delegate representation from Hornepayne First Nation group at the AGA held in early August until the internal situation is resolved which the NWMO respects;
We the Elders do not understand why NAN continues disrespect the Hornepayne First Nation Elders Council; we had dysfunction within our internal governance system over the past decade at the hands of the Medeiros’s and outside influences. However, we have now risen up as a First Nation community in whole to improve our local condition. When the NWMO was ignoring the Hornepayne First Nation’s voice, the First Nation community brought this issue to the Elders Council, a resolution was passed for the unjust BARRIER (NAN position of non-acceptance) that NAN had created which allows the NWMO to advance their Agenda, and NAN is mandated to help the Treaty 9 people to protect their Traditional Territory.
Our Intention was not to fight with NAN we merely wanted to be heard and to clarify the misinformation with their position against Hornepayne First Nation, as we are a NAN First Nation member. We just want the BARRIER (NAN position of non-acceptance) cleared up by NAN respecting our Sovereign Rights as a NAN First Nation member so our community voice can be heard allowing our community to move forward in a positive direction.
DENIED NAN SUPPORT DUE TO UNJUST BARRIER
1.) Denied access to the NAN Elder’s Council;
2.) Denied access to the NAN Woman’s Council;
3.) Denied access to the NAN partner Kunuwanimano; and
4.) Denied access list will continue to grow due to the unjust Barrier
COMMUNITY SUPPORT IS OVER 90% FOR OUR ELDERS COUNCIL
Our members as per our last electoral list were 264 members. When we sent our letter on February 25, 2015 to NAN, 101 members signed it supporting the local community internal governance process. Since the sit-in began on April 8, 2015, we now have over 90% of the overall community members supporting internal governance processes to move the community forward.
This is TRULY A COMMUNITY ACTION not an individual action and the COMMUNITY’S SOVEREIGNTY should be respected by NAN as we are a NAN First Nation member that makes up One of the 49 (All) First Nations in NAN. “Sovereignty for One, Sovereignty for All”
ELDERS COUNCIL WANTS THE COMMUNITY TO START HEALING
We the Elders along with our community members supporting us for the past 7-weeks have been subjected to emotional abuse trying to breakdown our spirit from our sit-in, it has taken a toll on our self-esteem along with the lie’s that were told about us, today we have given in to the abuse. Our emotional hurt to think we are Elders who are not worthy to be respected. When NAN was going to have us arrested and detained, we were in tears, we barricaded ourselves into a room that night in fear they will arrive during the night to arrest us, but, we did not want to leave the NAN head office because we are standing for our future grandchildren and great grandchildren. Our Creator is watching over us because when they took the barbeque away from us, the next day a barbeque was donated. When they took the fridge away, where we kept our milk and Insulin the next day a fridge was donated. When they took the Microwave, toaster, coffee maker and misc. items away from us, the next day all items taken was donated to bring back comfort and respect to us Elders, our Creator is watching over us, and he knows what is going on.
Our youth need to know that Elders are taking a stand on their behalf, as a First Nation we need to protect our traditional ways for the future hunters and trappers. We came to Thunder Bay thinking that NAN would respect us Elders and understand that we need to stop the NWMO from burying their poison on our trap-lines. We were wrong thinking NAN respected Elders and that makes this day a sad one, as NAN continues to claim we are not worthy and has neglected to honor us as Elders for Hornepayne First Nation as we must protect our Traditional Lands for our future generations.
We will have a hard time forgiving NAN for their short sightedness and their loss of the Traditional Anishnawbe ways that NAN was originally built on, we cannot heal if we hold anger against NAN and will be asking our Chief & Council to hold a debriefing to help our community to heal from this awful experience.
Our only remaining hope is that the NAN First Nation Chiefs will see today and hearing the words from our hearts, will understand that we deserving of our Sovereignty.
CLOSING CEREMONIES AT 100 BACK STREET ON THE FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION WILL COMMENCE ON THURSDAY, MAY 28th 1:00PM TO BRING THE SIT-IN TO AN END.
We hope the NAN Chiefs have an opportunity to drop by and say hi to the Elders.