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Pulp Pollution: Big Concern To Native People

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE 1971      v02 n05 p04  
Meadow Lake Civic Centre meeting
Gordon Tootoosis (standing at the mic.), an Executive
member of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, said,
"the Indian people of this area are very concerned about
what's going to happen to them if their livelihood of trapping
or fishing is destroyed. Although it might not seem
too much of a livelihood to other people, but this is all they
have that they can still call their own."

The danger of pollution and discrimination in job opportunities for Indian and Metis people were the main concerns expressed at a meeting of 350 persons at the Meadow Lake Civic Centre on May 18. The meeting, chaired by the Honourable Allan R. Guy, Minister of Saskatchewan Indian and Metis Department, and Minister of Municipal Affairs, was to provide information and discussions about the new pulpmill and sawmill.

Speakers in attendance were Mr. G. E. Boyhan, Vice-President of Parsons and Whittemore Inc., the American company that is developing the mill, Mr. Gaston Girrard, Parsons and Whittemore construction department, Mr. T. A. Ballantyne, Manager of woodlands operations for Parsons and Whittemore in Saskatchewan, Mr. K. E. Mackie, Department of Municipal Affairs, Mr. L. H. Bergstrom, Deputy Minister Department of Education, and Mr. Glen Smith from Canada Manpower Regional Office in Winnipeg. Also present were representatives from several of the unions involved.

Several outbursts occurred in the morning session of the six hour meeting, and at one time chairman Allan Guy told Metis Society president Jim Sinclair and some of his organizers that if they did not want to follow the agenda and allow all persons to ask questions "you can leave as this is not a meeting between the government and the Metis Society. We have had lots of those meetings."

A major eruption developed shortly after the meeting resumed in the afternoon and when Mr. Guy said the Metis Society could leave, Dr. Howard Adams, a former president of the society, jumped to the microphone in the centre of the audience and shouted, "Don't you ever tell our people you will have us expelled from this hall...you have bossed us around too damn long."

Back from B.C.

Mr. Guy retorted, "It is nice to see him back from B.C. where he had a nice winter."

As dozens of the members of the audience joined into the shouting, Dr. Adams shouted, "I'm happy I'm a half breed. I'm much more a citizen of this province than Parsons and Whittemore."

Mr. Sinclair said, at one point, Can you blame us for criticizing programs our people have not been involved in?' which led Mr. Guy to state that the "Metis Society doesn't speak for all the Metis in the province."

Mr. Sinclair charged that the government "doesn't represent every person in the province. You have NDP opposition right here."

Another person from Green Lake said, "Why promise us all kinds of jobs. you will put white men, the big shots, in there. You just tell us a good story because an election is coming. We got nothing." No, work in Green Lake. Where is the work?"

Mr. Tootoosis, representative of the F.S.I., said the Indian people are looking a hell of a lot further than Parsons and Whittemore. We are looking at the tourist industry and this is exactly what you are going to kill."

Mr. Boyhan stated that the effluent from the mill, which is the largest industrial complex in the history of Saskatchewan, would have no damaging effect on the fish life in the area. He also assured the meeting that the mill would have virtually no smell due to the ultramodern equipment being installed. However the Indian and Metis delegations present were not satisfied, and demanded that bonds consisting of upwards of $10,000,000 be posted as a guarantee. They also wanted Hon. A. R. Guy to sign this bond but Mr. Guy said that is not a Government practice to go around indiscriminately signing papers. The issue is still unresolved.

Parsons and Whittemore's Vice-President, Mr. Boyhan said that they had made an extensive study of the area of forest to be used and told the meeting that there was "timber in perpetuity" and reforestation was assured. Several people disagreed, however, stating that in their experience reforestation was negligible and gave examples of cases" in the Prince Albert area that had been logged off and left in a terrible mess.