Thursday, July 25, 2024

Thoughts on Proposed TC Energy Hydro Storage Facility

Letter to the Editor


My name is Caley Patrick Doran. I am a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, Neyaashiinigmiing, formerly known as ‘Cape Croker’, on the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula in Ontario. Along with the Saugeen First Nation, we form the Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory.

The purpose of this letter is to outline my objections to the proposed Hydro Storage Facility near Meaford, Ontario. I am requesting that the proposal not proceed any further for two reasons: (1) this project is proposed to proceed on land that was unfairly expropriated or otherwise obtained by the Government of Canada through coerced sales; and (2) the project will cause massive environmental impacts.

My mother, Merceline (Nadjiwon) Doran, a residential school survivor and nurse, married my father, Doug Doran, a farmer from Scotch Mountain, near Meaford. My father has passed away but his death is not the first time my family has experienced tragedy. In July of 1942, under the Expropriation Act and the War Measures Act, my grandfather, Richard (Dick) Doran, had his land taken, along with over 100 families in the Cape Rich hamlet farming community. The federal government made low offers to purchase the land and immediately filed an expropriation plan. The message was clear: sell your home at the government named price, or it will be taken away using expropriation powers.

My grandfather and the other Cape Rich residents were compensated unfairly, to make room for the creation of the 4th Canadian Division Training Center, known as the ‘tank range’.

Now, approximately 80 years later, the Government of Canada is considering allowing TC Energy to convert the fertile farmland – land that was unjustly taken away from Cape Rich residents and from my family – into a pumped storage hydroelectric facility.

The rashness in which this displacement concluded had a profound effect on the community. It was not just the loss of crops, livestock, and wages; but, also the emotional and stressful ordeal of having their close-knit community torn apart and re-settled, destroying all the progress and goodwill that they had to spend years building together. The residents of Cape Rich accepted unfair compensation for their lands. They feared being labeled traitors to the war effort. They understood that if they did not accept the ‘offer’ they were given, the Government would seize their lands regardless and they would receive nothing in return.

Between August and September of 1942, the farming community sacrificed the properties they had worked hard to cultivate, to support the greater good of Canada, and left with nothing but their meager belongings and crying children, saying goodbye to the only home they’d ever known.

As you are aware, many atrocities came out of the War Measures Act. Infringements on free speech, systematic discrimination, oppression, and forced internment are all historical stains on Canadian history. While the displacement of over 100 families from a farming community might not garner as much compassion as the offenses mentioned above, the manner and haste with which the members of the Cape Rich farming community were forced from their land are akin to military oppression. It certainly has not been forgotten by the family members of residence of Cape Rich.

Adding insult to tragedy, the DND refused to keep a promise they made to the farmers: that orchards and cemeteries would be upkept and that their lands would be returned to productivity when the war ended. As it stands now, my family is only allowed to return to the land once a year to visit the graves of my ancestors, buried in the overgrown family cemetery, under the supervision of military officials and the threat of bodily harm from unexploded artillery shells and mortars. As we leave, we cannot help feel a heavy heart as we pass by the once beautiful orchards and fruit trees that my grandfather and the members of his community tended, which now sit overgrown, destroyed and barren.

I can’t help but be reminded of a similar case involving the Stoney Point First Nation and the Ipperwash Crisis. Eventually, that land was returned to the Chippewas of Stoney and Kettle Point First Nation along with $95 million in compensation in 2016. Why have the displaced families of Cape Rich not been compensated for the tragedy and loss they suffered at the hands of the Canadian Government?

As a First Nations family we are aware that our ancestors lived in the area now used as the Canadian Forces Training Area for thousands of years. The Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation have ancestral claims to the land and it belongs to the Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory.

In addition to my unfair expropriation land claim concerns, as a member of the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula community I find it irresponsible and hypocritical that a government publicly committed to advancing green incentives could support such an inefficient and antiquated way of storing power. With all of the modern advancements we have made in the field of creating and storing energy I do not understand how something so environmentally hazardous and wasteful (in terms of land use) is being considered for development. Pumped storage hydroelectric power is simply lip-service to environmental concerns that do not curb the emissions from burning fossil fuels. Although economically feasible, the generator would still use more carbon or nuclear-based electricity than it would supply emissions-free hydroelectric power, only generating roughly 70% of the energy it uses to pump the water back into the reservoir. Not to mention the damage that the pumped storage plant will have on fish habitat, ice flows, water current, and introduction of foreign micro-organisms into the native marine habitats.

I want to summarize my words as simply as possible. In my opinion, the land occupied by the 4th Canadian Division Training Center is not the Department of National Defence’s land to lease, sell, or rent, neither does the land belong to the Canadian Government of Her Majesty the Queen (with all due respect). Furthermore, since it has become apparent that we can no longer trust the security and sanctity of our orchards, cemetery, and land to the responsibility of the DND; and, that the land seemingly is no longer needed for military training purposes, we must insist that arrangements are made to return the surplus property to the displaced peoples or their surviving families. This land should be returned for use as they see fit as is their ancestral right, and also to close another dark chapter of the oppressive War Measures Act.

To this day our displaced families have not received any acknowledgement or an apology for the actions of the Canadian Government.


Caley Patrick Doran, South Bruce Peninsula

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