Aboriginal people in Ontario are prepared to lay down their lives to protect their traditional lands from any unwanted development, a group of First Nations chiefs said Tuesday.
Aboriginal communities have seen what Canadian and Ontario laws have done to their land over the last 147 years, Beardy said.
“The land has become sick,” he said. “We become sick. We become poor, desperate and dying.”
The people of Grassy Narrows First Nation are still suffering from mercury poisoning decades after the Wabigoon river around their land was contaminated by a local paper mill, Beardy added.
Grand Chief of Treaty 3, Warren White, argued that Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognizes the state of Israel, but not the lands of Canada’s aboriginal peoples.
“He needs to have the same principles that he’s saying about Israeli lands to Treaty 3 territory and native lands in Canada,” White said.
“Clean up your own backyard before you go and spill a lot of money into disasters in other countries.”
Grand Chief Harvey Yesno of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation added that the province’s aboriginal people will draw a line in the sand, 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.”
Aboriginal communities don’t want to harm others, said Beardy. But they’ll do what they must to stop an incursion on their lands, such as forming human blockades to stop the clearcutting of trees, he said.
“Anything that happens on our aboriginal homeland now, they must consult with us,” said Roger Fobister Sr., chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation. “Even if they’re going to cut down one tree, they better ask us.”