Six Nation’s garbage problem

Let’s look at reality. When it comes to disposing of our garbage I too have concern for the environment. In my opinion, and my opinion only, it seems some people’s concern for the environment is short sighted. All we have now to dispose of our garbage is a dump, just a plain old dump. 

Nigh unto 40 some years Public Works (PW) has dug holes in the ground and we, the Six Nations people who are supposed to be the protectors of Mother Earth, fill the holes with all kinds of garbage. When the hole became full, PW just dug another hole. There’s no liner at the bottom or any kind of fancy monitoring system. Every so often PW drains the leachate but by then the soil is damaged.

When Council closed the Smoothtown dump, another dump site opened on 4th Line. Now we’re stockpiling the garbage meaning piling garbage on top of already full holes because we have no more land to dig new holes. The stinking, rotten garbage is left to leak leachate, contaminants into the ground hence into the ground water. The garbage is left to desecrate our Mother Earth forever. Over the years nobody said anything or made any kind of noise about what we were all doing to the environment. That’s because the garbage is buried out of sight; out of mind.

Now that Council is trying some modern landfill technology all of a sudden some people are concerned about the environment. We have non-native self-proclaimed experts and do-good environmentalist scrambling to our community to snag up with some community folk to tell us the ills and dangers of landfill technology. What irks me is these people come here and treat us like we’re stupid. I know the Kearns landfill technology isn’t a perfect system by any stretch of the imagination. But I do know its damn well better that what we have now.

The current Kearns System which is thirty years old is just an interim system. It’s basically a Show & Tell system. The system Council is negotiating to purchase will be a brand new system operated by natural gas and have the capability to disintegrate all types of garbage. Council’s long term goal is to dig up and dispose of the garbage at the current dump site.

I agree the more positive solution is to recycle. But we need 100 per cent of the households to participate not just 20-30 percent. How many years will it take to have our community fully recycling? Council could pass a Recycling By-law that says all households have to recycle but how many people would say “Council’s by-laws don’t apply to me”. Yes we could compost but again this all takes time and time is what we don’t have. Right now in 2014 our garbage is in a crisis situation. We can’t wait for people to jump on the recycling and compost bandwagon.

The way I see it Six Nations only has one option other than the Kearns landfill technology. Keeping the current dump open is not an option. Council would have to close the current dump because its serviceability is already two years over capacity.

The only other option is to truck our garbage out of the territory. But first we’d have to find a municipality willing to partner with Six Nations. That could be difficult if not impossible given the kind of garbage people put into our dump. Then PW would have to charge a “garbage fee” because hauling garbage isn’t free. How many people would balk at that?

Decades ago before Council started a dump site people burned garbage in their backyards or dumped the garbage in the bushes. Some people are still doing this or getting paid to let non-natives dump whatever on their properties. In the bush behind my house there were two garbage dumps. A few years ago, some 100 years later, we hired someone to dig up one of the dump sites and I was astounded to find many of the items like bottles, cans, tires etc. were still intact.

It is from my experience with the dumps in my bush and the guilt from dumping my own garbage into the ground all these years that brought me to support the landfill technology. In my mind the positives of the new disintegrating system far outweighs continuing to fill holes in the ground. As long as I’m a councillor I will never support Six Nations digging more holes in the ground to fill up with garbage.

– Councillor Helen Miller

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