The Anishinabek Nation – which has 40 member communities and represents 60,000 Indigenous people in Ontario – has spoken against the approval of the plan to divert water from Ininwewi-gichigami (Lake Michigan) to the four communities surrounding Waukesha, Wisconsin, which is located outside the Great Lakes Basin.
Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says, “This is the beginning of the water wars that we were warned about and this will open doors for other jurisdiction outside the Great Lakes Basin to tap into the waters. First Nations on the Canadian side have not been consulted as per the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to which both Canada and the United States are signatory. Here we go again, just like the treaties, UNDRIP is being ignored.”
He notes, “The Great Lakes are the heart of the Anishinabek Nation and Waukesha’s diversion raises discomfort among the Anishinabek Nation communities. Our communities are around the Great Lakes and this decision could set a dangerous precedent for other jurisdictions facing water shortages. The Anishinabek Nation has opposed the Waukesha Water Diversion and any other proposed water diversion out of the Great Lakes Basin and we do not support the exception standards to water diversion to nearby communities that are straddling the states of the Great Lakes Basin.”
And Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare says, “As part of the United Indian Nations of the Great Lakes we have an inherent right and sacred responsibility to protect these waters. Any discussion and decision of the management of the Great Lakes must be Nation-to-Nation with the Anishinabek Nation.”
In addition, grandmother and water walker Josephine Mandamin says, “This is terrible news about Waukesha, now the precedent is in place. Taking care of the water is the responsibility of the Anishinabek people, and it is heart breaking that we are not part of the decisions that is occurring with the waters of the Great Lakes. We are the care takers of this precious resource, this responsibility was handed to us. We have been governed by the Creator to take care of our Mother the Earth and as women we have a duty to perform on behalf of all creation to take special care of the Waters.”
The Council of Canadians is also opposed to this water diversion.
In May both Ontario and Quebec gave their conditional approval to the water diversion, and on June 21 representatives of the eight US states bordering the Great Lakes formally approved the plan. This means that by around June 2018, 31 million litres of water per day will be taken from Lake Michigan and transported via a pipeline to Waukesha, which is situated 27 kilometres away from the lake and outside of the Great Lakes watershed area. If this isn’t stopped, Waukesha would become the first US community located outside of the Great Lakes basin to receive water from the lakes. Some have warned this creates a precedent for Nevada or California to seek that water too.
More on this at Council of Canadians opposed to Waukesha water diversion approval.