Amnesty International has added its voice to a community-led campaign calling on the Federal government to decontaminate a waste disposal site in the Mohawk community of Kanehstatà:ke, just an hour’s drive from Montreal.
For years, the community has lived next to a waste disposal site containing vast amounts of unfiltered industrial refuse. The resulting toxins and foul smells threaten the health of local people and the surrounding environment. Their right to a healthy environment is at risk.
The Indigenous community of Kanehsatà:ke is the second smallest in Québec. Construction waste from Montréal, one of the largest cities in Canada, is trucked to the community and left at the facility. Today, the equivalent of one hundred and sixty swimming pools of unidentified waste sit in the community of Kanehsatà:ke with little protection for those who live there.
In the last parliament, the government was considering a bill to prevent and redress environmental racism, Bill C-230. We are joining other NGOs and Land Defenders in calling for the federal government to reinstate this bill. We are also calling on the federal government to reintroduce Bill C-28 to update and strengthen the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).
Left in limbo for too long
Indigenous peoples must not be trapped in jurisdictional battles between federal and provincial authorities. For reconciliation to take place, there must be truth and accountability. The people of Kanehstatà:ke have faced serious threats to their right to self-determination and are calling for a period of healing and reconciliation in action. The authorities must take action now to decontaminate the site as requested by the community.
Will you join the campaign to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to take urgent action?
NGOs and Allied Groups United Against Environmental Racism on Indigenous Lands
Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier François Legault,
As you may have been informed by your respective ministries, the G&R Recycling facility in Kanehsatà:ke, Québec, has been reported to contain toxic waste without permits or precautions(1) to prevent spillage into the environment. Health experts cited in local media and the Toronto Star(2) identify this waste as a threat to human health. The longer this waste sits unmanaged and untreated on Indigenous land, the greater the threat to all adjacent communities and waterways connecting with the St. Laurence seaway.
Evidence from documents obtained through Freedom of Information Requests establish that Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Québec Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques have been aware of the presence of toxic waste on the site since 2019. In spite of this, neither the federal nor the provincial government has taken decisive action to secure the site. Instead, they have consistently redirected responsibility to one another, leading to a persisting danger for local residents with no clear roadmap for cleanup.
G&R is no isolated incident. In 2019, the United Nations rapporteur for human rights and hazardous substances stressed that Indigenous Peoples are “disproportionately affected” by toxic waste. At Grassy Narrows, much of the population suffered from Mercury Poisoning. At Fort McMurray, First Nations communities continue to bear the brunt of the energy sector’s activities.
At a time when Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is a national dialogue, actions must follow words to alleviate the historic and systemic mistreatment of Indigenous communities. We the undersigned in this network are calling on you today to mobilize the vast resources of the federal and provincial governments to immediately secure and decontaminate this dump site in Kanehsatà:ke and others like it.
We also ask the federal government to re-introduce Bill C-230(3), as reported by committee in the last Parliament, and seek the agreement of other parties to proceed to third reading before the end of the year. If passed, this bill would reveal the discriminatory effects of environmental policy-making and, we hope, avoid further instances of unregulated and dangerous waste sites on Indigenous lands and adjacent to the homes of the country’s racialized populations.
Concretely, as an immediate display of good faith and commitment to Reconciliation, we demand that the federal government coordinate with the Province of Québec and Band Council to develop a plan to clean up the G&R facility with a publicly-available timeline and milestones.
- Action cancer du sein du Québec / Breast Cancer Action Quebec
- Amnistie internationale Canada francophone
- Amnesty International Canada (English Speaking)
- Canadian Coalition for Environmental and Climate Justice
- David Suzuki Foundation / Fondation David Suzuki
- Eau Secours
- The Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities and Community Health Project (The ENRICH Project)
- Front commun pour la transition énergétique
- Front commun québécois pour une gestion écologique des déchets (FCQGED
- Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace
- Small Change Fund
1. Compilation of research on infractions and toxicity at G&R Recycling facility including links to information received in FOI requests (available on Home Page of https://www.reconciliaction.org/)
2. Select Prior Media Coverage:
Toronto Star: Investigation Reveals Damning Contamination
La Presse: Dépotoir illégal à Kanesatake Des BPC et de l’eau « noire comme du goudron »
Ricochet: Threats, fines and fear: A dump on Mohawk land overflows with industrial waste
3. History of Bill C-230: National Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism Act