Letter urges Selwyn council to protect wild rice

·2 min read

A letter from Community Voices for Manoomin about wild rice in Pigeon Lake sparked a Selwyn Township council conversation about the growing concerns regarding Indigenous fisheries in Nova Scotia.

The letter, which highlights the protection of Manoomin (wild rice) in Pigeon Lake and the Kawarthas was brought to Selwyn Township councillors’ attention during their meeting on Tuesday evening.

Lakefield Ward Coun. Anita Locke said the letter makes important points.

“I want to make clear I’m not taking sides on either the Save Pigeon Lake people or the Community Voice for Manoomin, I just find it in a way really tragic what kind of spark that was the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq lobster fishers,” said Locke.

The attacks by non-Indigenous people, which began earlier this month, have resulted in lobster being stolen and a van being burned, for example.

“The Indigenous lobster fisher people are basically being bullied and harassed. I think their warehouse was set on fire. I think it’s important that we continue to work with the First Nations and also the Save Pigeon Lake folks,” said Locke.

The letter states that the Curve Lake First Nation and other Williams Treaties First Nations peoples have the right to harvest Manoomin.

“Our constituency recognizes and respects the constitutional and inherent rights of the Curve Lake First Nation people to harvest and cultivate Manoomin as part of their traditional diet and to practice their pre-and-post-contact trade and commerce activities with respect to Manoomin in the Americas,” it states.

However, while Community Voices for Manoomin members are fighting for the wild rice to be protected, Save Pigeon Lake (SPL), a lakeshore property owners’ group, want it gone.

The battle between the opposing sides regarding the wild has been going on for several years.

According to Community Voices for Manoomin, there are four significant misconceptions circulating in the media, with many more circulated by SPL and others who may not have a sense of the fuller picture.

One of the misconceptions is that the harvesting of the wild rice creates a lot of noise, but it’s only harvested for a week or two during September, while large boats or personal watercraft produce noise on the lake throughout the entire summer, the letter states.Because of Manoomin being destroyed by property owners, the group has received over 11,000 signatures in support of protecting the wild rice.

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner