Land defenders hopeful, but continue to block dam rebuild in Burleigh Falls

·2 min read

Recent talks with Parks Canada has left land defender Nodin Webb feeling hopeful about the situation in Burleigh Falls where a group has blocked repair work on the dam.Since early January, land defenders from Kawartha Nishnawbe have blocked construction crews from accessing the dam site. They claim the protest is not about the dam being rebuilt; it's about how Parks Canada only consulted with Curve Lake First Nation and left them out without any regard for their land or harvesting areas of Burleigh Falls. According to Webb, Parks Canada has agreed to provide written documents on what the consultation process will look like going forward. Parks Canada met with Kawartha Nishnawbe on Jan. 29 to discuss issues relating to proper consultation.Land defenders say there was no consultation with the community and because Parks Canada neglected to include them in the process, they felt there was no other choice but to stop the work on Jan. 12. In an email statement, David Britton, director of Ontario Waterway, says Parks Canada has connected with individuals and groups through public meetings, personal discussion, web, social media and bulletins. He adds Parks Canada has sought to mitigate public concerns.However, Webb says Parks Canada did not recognize Kawartha Nishnawbe in any consultation in 2016, and says Parks Canada said it was an oversight why they did not include the community. “We wait and see now, but we are here until we are satisfied,” says Webb.Britton says there is no indication when work will resume.The repair work is extensive and is reported to last until 2024. Meanwhile, Webb says the Indigenous community in Burleigh Falls is not recognized as a First Nation and it’s something Webb hopes changes in the years to come. Kawartha Nishnawbe consists of five councillors. One from each of the five families who originated from Curve Lake First Nation and took up residence on the shores of Lovesick Lake. Previously, Webb had said he along with Kawartha Nishnawbe are concerned with possible artifacts on Island 31 where the land has already been excavated. According to the land defenders, the area where the barricade is located is traditional hunting ground and initial residence of the Kawartha Nishnawbe. The land is also part of the Williams Treaty 20 harvesting and hunting grounds, this according to the Williams Treaty First Nations land maps.

Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week