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Communities want dumping to stop in Kanesatake


Trucks are dumping toxic material in Kanesatake and community members and residents in neighbouring Oka want it stopped.

They say they are ready to set up roadblocks to prevent the hundreds of trucks from entering the community.

Leaders in the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community about 40 minutes north of Montreal say dumping has been going on for at least three decades.

"This has been going on for a long time, at least the dumping," said Mohawk Council of Kanesatake Chief Brant Etienne. "At least the last 30 years."

Contaminated soil, including concrete and construction materials, gets dumped at the former G&R Recycling site.

"We have to stop turning a blind eye," said Etienne.

Julie Tremblay said trucks also dump toxic material right on the shores of the Lake of Two Mountains and the Ottawa River.

"We're talking about 200 to 300 trucks per day," said the Oka resident.

Tremblay is part of a new collective calling for an end to what she calls the daily chaos.

"We are preparing to block the roads and actually do road controls," she said.

The Oka residents, Kanesatake community members and environmental groups want to avoid measures like blocking roads if they can, and Oka's city hall is not in favour of such a tactic.

Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon said he doesn't support any blockades, as he fears it could put residents in danger.

While illegal dumping is at the heart of the fight in Kanesatake, critics say government inaction allows the problem to fester.

"It's par for the course for Indigenous issues," said Etienne. "We're used to federal and provincial goverments at different levels tossing our issues around like a hot potato."

For years, Quebec and Ottawa have been debating who is responsible for cleaning up the G&R site.

MCK Grand Chief Victor Bonspille said the community needs to be involved in finding a solution.

"Stop dictating us and telling us what to do - you've been doing it for hundreds of years now," he said. "We're the keepers of the land, let us do what we have to do and listen to us."

Environmental group Eau Secours executive director Rebecca Petrin worries about the effects the dumping will have on water sources.

"It's a drinking water source for almost 1 million people, so it's very important to protect this water source," she said.

As safety questions are raised, some residents blame the Quebec provincial police (SQ) for failing to intervene.

"We want to find solutions, but we need the collaboration of the federal government," Quebec's Public Security Ministry said in a statement.

For Etienne, the matter is urgent.

"Until they stop doing this, it's not going to end," said Etienne. "We're going to have nothing left for our next seven generations to come and even now." Top Stories

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