The Wahta Mohawks plan to stage a ‘Portage-In’ protest today where a controversial hydro plant could go in Bala. It’ll happen at 11am at the Bala Portage between the Moon River and Lake Muskoka. The Wahta Mohawks say the proposed plant would eliminate the historic portage, which they and other First Nations have used for generations.
Organizers say the demonstration will also protest the federal and provincial governments failure to fulfill their “Duty to Consult”. They say the government ‘s review of the project did not substantively include the Wahta Mohawks as required by the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate. The Wahta Mohawks arrived in Muskoka in November of 1881 using what is now referred to as the Bala Portage.
The Wahta Mohawks are asking that the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) not approve any of the developer’s plans and specifications which would result in the obstruction of the Bala Portage and that the MNR require consultation be held with both First Nations and the general public. They also want the current Section 28 ban on using the portage route struck down.
Another request is going to Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to require the developer to re-start the environmental assessment process, so there can be meaningful consultation with the Wahta Mohawks and the general public on the issues.
Wahta Mohawks are also asking Transport Canada to ensure that the Bala Portage not be obstructed, while the District of Muskoka and the Township of Muskoka Lakes are being asked to not provide Driveway Entrance permits, building permits, or otherwise facilitate this proposed project’s construction until it’s shown that the “Duty to Consult” has been fulfilled.
The Wahta Mohawks have sent these requests to both Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.