If the death sentence for hundreds of acres of the Thundering Waters Forest is technically legal is it just?
The basic argument that seems to be supported by the political establishment in Niagara is that since this a private parcel of land there is little that could be done to save this priceless remnant of the glacial Lake Tonawanda. This is political choice not an inevitability.
“The problems that we are facing today, as a species that inhabits a planet of limited resources, arise not simply out of physical limitations but from political realities. It is a hard fact of life that the misery that exists in the world will be manipulated in the interests of profit.” – A Basic Call to Consciousness by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy 1977
There are hundreds of acres of protected wetland and hundreds of acres of old growth forest all abound with rare and protected species interconnected and adjacent to one another. The scale of clearing would be massive for modern times in this area. The birds, bats, frogs, turtles, salamanders and other things that crawl and fly are surely unaware of the delineation set forth by the Ministry of Natural Resources as the land stands now and are living in harmony with the diversity of tree and plant lives.
In a time that far precedes the 150 year history of the now dominant country there were no lines on this forest, there were no lines dividing nations, and there was no need for a law to protect the wealth of the forest by delineation. The people original to these lands believed that it was their duty to take only what they needed and to divide what they took equally amongst themselves. If anybody were to go hungry it would be the leaders who were first to suffer the hardship but to avoid that they had respect for the common wealth of the forest.
In the now dominant Western culture the opposite is true. The leadership are established and very well cared for while poverty abounds in one of the most historically wealthy times in history in the regional epicentre of that wealth. The forests and wetlands that have survived Western culture receive the minimum standard of protection. The collective wealth of our rich hydrology networks – despite being adjacent to around a fifth of the world’s freshwater supply – has no firm protection. Hundreds of acres of forest are not valuable enough to be spared in the never ending spiral of economic growth.
Legally water could be protected as a common right. Conservation authorities could highlight the value of significant but technically unprotected large forested networks to the hydrology networks in the region. Politicians could work to enhance the shared priceless assets that were gifted to us by natural processes. Local networks of business, food supply, energy generation, and employment could be enhanced. These would be important changes that fall in line with natural and indigenous legal principles.
Instead the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has added economic development and streamlining of the development approval process to it’s strategic plan. It is also governed exclusively by politicians without technical experts, indigenous or citizen guidance. It has worked to try to move protected areas to more convenient locations through the ill conceived biodiversity offsetting scheme.
When over 200 acres of forest and savannah are slated for death by injection of development all three tiers of government and the conservation authority are virtually silent. Furthermore instead of being lead by a local company with ties to the area and an investment in the people of Niagara this project is being developed by the Chinese State owned GR Can Investment. For centuries land has been developed to “power prosperity” for Canadians. Now this destructive development of finite natural spaces is being sold abroad.
“The interests of the worldwide market economy, quite contrary to all of the teachings of the colonists, are exactly the interests that promise to create a crisis for humanity in the decades to come. The dialectical opposite of that process would be the rekindling, on a planetary basis, of locally based culture.” – A Basic Call to Consciousness by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy 1977
This deforestation is in conflict with the spirit of Treaty law and is an affront to traditional Indigenous leadership. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 generally and the Treaty of Niagara of 1764 specifically make this area part of the Dish with One Spoon Treaty territory. The Treaty means that this territory must have its resources maintained for a common good. Specifically the Treaty opposes excessive consumption, implements sharing and requires principles of perpetual conservation to remain in place for lands covered by the agreement including all of the Niagara Region. By virtue of the 35th part of the Constitution Act Canada recognizes the validity of these treaties with the crown and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer came to Niagara to celebrate and reaffirm the Treaty of Niagara for it’s recent 250 year anniversary.
None of the established Niagara leadership has sought out input from traditional Anishinaabe or Haudenosaunee leadership about this forest. The local area urban indigenous community centres have not been requested to have a say. The thousands of area urban indigenous people who live here and drink the water and breathe the air the forest purifies have not been asked. It is safe to say that the unborn generations who would most definitely benefit from the natural benefits of the land have not been considered.
What has been considered is that while there are decades of lands already zoned for development this parcel is seen by the power brokers of Niagara as being worth more gutted and developed than protected and thriving.
Canada is a nation that is publicly seeking a path towards reconciliation for the way it has operated blindly and in the self interests of certain groups in the past resulting in the cultural genocide perpetuated against this land’s original people. Part of reconciliation is change and an important part of that change is to understand that traditional people original to this land have no choice but to speak up for the parts of the natural world that cannot speak for themselves. If leadership continues to try to perpetuate an unrealistic financial model of infinite exponential growth they aren’t acting for the greater good of anybody except for the small groups that benefit from this dated model. Greed, endless destruction of finite resources, never ending pipelines, extraction and eviscerating this beautiful natural marvel are not reconciliation. It is more of the same.
This development may be technically legal – though that is hardly a certainty at this point – but is it right? I think the answer is clearly no. It is unfair to mortgage the future of our children by carving up the Thundering Waters Forest.
This effort needs you to support a moratorium on the development of the Thundering Waters Forest.
In Love and Kindness.
More information on how to Save Thundering Waters Forest can be heard at a rally at Niagara Falls City Hall on the 7th of July at 6pm or can be found on the event facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1281578405187497/