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CAMP MORNINGSTAR - NFB FILM GIVES VOICE TO THE ANNISHINAABE/CREE OBJECTION TO THE SILICA SAND MINE ON LAKE WINNIPEG
By Suzanne Forcese
“For the good of my people, for the Earth, for her health too--her being unhealthy and ripped apart, means that we die with her and not all the money in the world will save us.” -- Kelvin Ramsey, Sacred Fire Keeper, Camp Morningstar
“The real concerns expressed by citizens of Southeastern Manitoba ...their fundamental right to have access to clean drinking water may very well be usurped to accommodate the financial interests and gains of a single private industry.” -- Don Sullivan, Director, What the Frack Manitoba (WTFM)
At a time when many external forces are imposing change, Writer/ Director Kevin Settee’s National Film Board Production, Camp Morningstar, tells the story of a sacred camp established on the east side of Lake Winnipeg that was erected in response to the proposal of a silica sand mine.
Calling attention to ingenuity and resilience, the film explores Camp Morningstar’s historical and spiritual connections to territory, the role of ceremony, and the power of collective action
Watch the film here.
In WATERTODAY’s continuing conversation with Don Sullivan, Director of What the Frack Manitoba (WTFM), Sullivan told us:
“Silica sand mining has become big business, and there are two primary markets for high grade silica sand these days. The first market is for use in fracking for oil and gas. Fracking requires huge volumes of silica sand. The second big market for large volumes of high-grade silica sand is for use in the making of float or flat glass.
“Manitoba has a very large untapped deposit of high-grade silica sand that can go some way to filling this demand for both these markets. There is now a concerted effort to exploit this resource.”
Two corporations, Canadian Premium Sands (CPS) and CanWhite Sands Corp
(CWS)-- both Alberta-based, are in the regulatory midst of seeking Government of Manitoba approval to construct and operate silica sand mines and processing facilities that would extract some 2.6 million tonnes of processed silica sand combined per year.
CanWhite Sands Corp (CWS) will be employing an unconventional and unproven mining method of extracting the silica sand from deep within the aquifer that supplies drinking water to all Southern Manitoba, including the City of Winnipeg.
The main concern with this mining method is that large amounts of excess aerated water will be returned to the aquifer. This aerated water will react with proven sources of sulphide contained in the aquifer to form acid that will mobilize heavy metals potentially contaminating the aquifer.
Contaminated water would also run through the Brokenhead River First Nations Territory.
Sullivan says that local groups in Southeastern Manitoba have been working on ensuring that those living in Southeastern Manitoba are accorded their fundamental human rights to access clean drinking water but are battling the bureaucratic system and its seeming failure to follow standard legal protocols.
“Manitoba groups such as What the Frack Manitoba and Our Line in the Sand still continue to do what can be done to hold both levels of government accountable to ensure those living in Southeastern Manitoba will have clean access to clean drinking water.”
As for Canadian Premium Sands projected silica sand mine on Treaty 5 Territory near Hollow Water First Nation -- in February 2020, CPS suspended operations.
One year later, as expected by Camp Morning Star organizers, new plans were announced by CPS to start up again.
Camp Morningstar organizers maintain their position that silica sand extraction is of no real benefit to the communities situated nearby.
The resulting destruction of the land would have long-term health impacts on humans, animals, wildlife, and on the lifeblood of all communities around Lake Winnipeg – the water.
While WTFM and Our Line in the Sand are aggressively pursuing provincial and federal responsibility, Camp Morning Star continues to follow Tradition.
“Ceremony has always been important to Anishinaabe people because this is how we express gratitude.... Mother Earth provides all that we will ever need. We have to protect it. That is who we are as people. We are the land.”
-- Marcel Hardisty, Hollow Water First Nation
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