Sep 24/97: Kahnawake Survival School threatened


Kahn-Tineta Horn
September 24, 1997

From: Kahn-Tineta Horn
      Box 991, Kahnawake Mohawk Territory
      Que. J0L 1B0 
      514-635-8696 Fax 514-635-8693


To: Hon.  Jean Chretien
    Prime Minister, Government of Canada
    House of Commons, Ottawa

The Mohawk Band Council of Kahnawake has authorized a multinational corporation, Archer Daniels Midland, to build four 100 ft. grain elevators on Lot SLS 7 at the Seaway and Survival School.

Monday, September 22nd, the Mohawk youth of Kahnawake Survival School stood up against Archer Daniels Midland, and the Mohawk Band Council of Kahnawake, and said, "No" to these grain elevators being built on their land. The students and their supporters marched 6 kilometers from the school to the band council office to deliver a letter of protest along with a petition signed by hundreds of Kahnawakeronon.

The students were not consulted and learned only last week that grain elevators were going to be set up 1,100 feet from their gymnasium, along with ship, railroad and truck facilities to transport the products. At a meeting at the Survival School on September 18th, Joe Norton of the band council, explained that 6 permanent jobs for 50 years would be created, along with truck driving jobs for those qualified. $250,000 will be given every year to the band council. Other than that, there are no other guarantees. At the meeting Pat Brascoupe of Apikan, who is on contract to Archer Daniels Midland, explained how safe and beneficial the project was. Next to him sat a representative from the environmental review company that was hired by ADM to give a report on the impact, who gave it a passing mark. Tom Morris of the band council nodded "yes" to everything the other two said. Not one person who attended the meeting wants this project, but it appears to be going ahead anyway.

The main considerations are (1) land; (2) health and safety; (3) gases; (4) fires; and (5) public hearings.

Kahnawake Survival School is located on the Northeast corner of the territory to stop any further encroachments. Next door are a car recycling plant and behind that propane gas is stored, on a non-native community land. Nevertheless, the Mohawk youth revere their school and their responsibilities to safeguard the land and the health of the people. They ask, what precedent is this project setting? Are we opening up our lands for outside companies? Does this give more power for the council to wave over the people? What are the plans for the money, accountability? What about the council permit to allow ADM to come in? If there is a catastrophe, who is liable? Why should the band council decide on land that belongs to the people?

Health and safety are threatened by high powered equipment and deadly gases which form to produce a volatile mixture. The most dangerous silo gas is nitrogen dioxide which is sometimes formed from the nitrate present in the plant when it is stored. This gas becomes nitric acid when it comes in contact with moisture. Nitric acid, one of the strongest acids, readily burns skin and corrodes metal. Imagine what it can do to body tissues. The dangers have increased with heavier use of manure and nitrogen fertilizer. Pesticides and other chemicals add to an explosive mix. Basically, the danger comes when natural products are stored unnaturally in large quantities.

Tom Morris, band council employee, told the students and others attending the September 18th meeting that, "No agreement has been signed and will not be without the peoples' consent". This is not true as in a letter dated April 28, 1997 Joseph Norton signed a letter to Archer Daniels Midland stating , "This is a confirmation that Archer Daniels Midland personnel and contractors will be working at the site of the grain storage facility - Kahnawake Distribution Centre - pursuant to our agreement. ...this letter serves as notice of our approval for ADM personnel and contractors under the supervision of ADM to undertake all necessary work at the site". Anyone who visits the site behind the school will find workers busy with construction, clearing, and trailers already set up full of workers, machines and papers. In the meantime Mohawk People are given 2 weeks to look at an environmental impact report to made a decision on the project.

Apparently, there are several relevant organizations who should be contacted, such as the Canadian Grain Commission, to find out just what kind of standards and regulations apply elsewhere. Apparently there are suppose to be public hearings before such a project is approved. If ADM goes ahead and builds the silos, and the findings of the public hearings go against the project, will the project have to be torn down. What about other organizations such as the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission? Could you send us a copy of "Hazardous Materials Information Review Act, TSC 1985, chap. H-2.7. Would you also suggest the Minister of Transport be informed regarding the "Transportation of Dangerous Goods". It appears ADM got a permit from the band council in order to get around the regulations, studies and public hearings that would apply elsewhere. The band council has no standards and does not even go to the people who own the land for their permission. Could you tell us if there are suppose to be public hearings and whether they need a license to run elevators under the Canada Grain Act.

As the Royal Proclamation applies throughout Canada, this project may be a breach of the fiduciary responsibility of the Canadian government, which must make sure that duly formed meetings are called and that informed consent was given by the people. Also, the environmental impact report was not done properly as to the impacts on the people, culture, social, economic and environment. We are alarmed over the total disregard for the rights of the people. We ask that you act to stop this project without delay as it is schedule to start in one week. Your response to my letter is necessary and required.

Yours truly,

Kahn-Tineta Horn

cc: Hon. Preston Manning, Reform Party
    Jean Charest, Progressive Conservative Party
    Gilles Duceppe, Bloc Quebecois
    Alexa McDonough, New Democratic Party

In a further note, Kahn-Tineta requested that we post the following as well:

Archer Daniels Midland is one of the biggest food cartels in the world.

Does anybody know anybody who has ever fought against the building of some industrial project on Indian lands and stopped it successfully? Does anyone have any information or ideas on how we can get this huge multinational food cartel off our territory? Any assistance or advice would be appreciated.

Please reply directly to Kahn-Tineta Horn at

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