Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Letter to the Editor


Letter to the Editor

In last week’s edition of the Indian Time, there was a Letter to the Editor titled “Fiduciary Responsibility of MCA” submitted by Ms. Beverly Pyke. Her opinion subtly suggests the negotiators exercised a lack of fiduciary responsibility in the negotiations leading up to the Final Settlement Agreement with OPG. This is factually incorrect.

The “negotiating team” was comprised of an Elders Advisory Group who individually served on the Councils of the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, combined with portfolio chiefs and two technicians. Strategies and approaches to these negotiations pretty much required the endorsement of this Elders Advisory Group and the portfolio chiefs.

The discussions with Ontario Hydro (later called OPG) started in 1993 resulting in the Final Settlement Agreement formally signed in October 2008. Over the course of these fifteen (15) years, regular reports of developments and progress were made to the Council, and to community members at General Meetings. The approval process for the Final Settlement Agreement was by way of Referendum, where the formal approval was put to the people. The community consultation on this file was rigorous, intense and comprehensive. I do not recall ever seeing Ms. Pyke present at any of these community gatherings over this fifteen year period, nor at the recently completed community consultations to discuss how the proceeds from this settlement should be managed and invested to meet the community’s current and future needs.

Ms. Pyke alleges that “there had been an offer by OPG to remediate the islands’’ (Toussaint and Presquile). This statement is misleading. The cost to remediate the two islands to their original contour lines was estimated to be in the range of 15 million dollars. OPG was prepared to consider the option of contracting this work out with the cost being deducted from settlement dollars. However, having no Akwesasne contractors on OPG’s supply list meant this approach would only benefit outside contractors. The desired approach was to use our contractors and create employment opportunities for our people.

The other thing to consider is that there wasn’t (and isn’t) a clear plan on what the two islands are to be used for. Before putting 15 million dollars of public money into a remediation process the public has the right to know what the plan is for the two islands. That hasn’t as yet been determined. It had always been the position of the Elders Advisory Group, the portfolio chiefs, Council and the technicians that any lands to be returned be in the same condition and status as when they were taken and in this case the decision is rightfully left where it belongs, with the people, with the community. As a measure to protect our interests, the lands were surveyed by a Canada Land Surveyor (CLS) and an environmental assessment was conducted. The contaminants in the soil are well below acceptable Akwesasne standards as well as provincial and federal.

In conclusion, I place a high level of integrity in the process used for the OPG settlement process. Successive councils performed their duty with the public interest in mind with particular thought being given to future generations. It was a very transparent process with the final decision going to where it belongs, to the people. Three former Chiefs and council members who served this community on the Elders Advisory Committee have passed on. I take personal exception in using their work as a political means to sway votes for this coming election on Saturday. They are not in a position to defend their actions, their unselfish contribution to the negotiations. But I am, and I will.

Chief Brian David.


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