Danny Beaton and Bacher focused on protecting the Nottawasaga River and the Minesing Wetlands from the polluted storm water that is set to flow from the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

Danny Beaton, Dr. John Bacher on Simcoe County’s inevitable Greenbelt.

First Nations Drum
January 2018

For Danny Beaton, Greenbelt celebrates Mother Earth
Dr. John Bacher (PhD)

Harold and Ann Boker and Danny in Art Parnel’s clover field, Simcoe County
Photo Courtesy of J.E. Simpson, 2009

Now in a ponderous and tentative way the Ontario government is engaged in a consultation to expand the Greenbelt into the sacred heartland of Huronia. It is the core of the civilization that produced the prophetic figure, the Peacemaker.

Technocratic words about wetlands, cold temperature water, moraines, aquifers, base flow and the key indicator species, the Brook Trout are the language of the long overdue exercise to expand the Greenbelt. They have little resonance however, compared to those expressed by Danny Beaton’s, passion for Mother Earth.

In contrast to official jargon, Beaton explains that, “under the Nanfan Treaty the Mohawk nation has the Right to water and wood from Six Nations to Georgian Bay as long as the grass grows and the sun
shines…therefore as a Mohawk man I have a right to protect our sacred waters, sacred farm land and our spiritual animals.”

Beaton, a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan, took his great stand in the defense of Mother Earth in the campaign to defend the world’s purest source of drinking water. It was located near Elmvale, where the greatest settlement of the people of the Peacemaker was located.

Beaton has termed The Peacemaker’s World, “The Healing Place.” He finds its “probably one of the most beautiful places that I have been to in my entire life. The waters are everywhere. The forests are everywhere. We pick the berries.” Here he eats the fish and gathers cedar on a regular basis.

There was a 22 year struggle that sought to protect the world’s cleanest water from becoming a garbage Dump. It was called based on an engineering report, Dump Site 41. Beaton played a major role in stopping the dump from receiving garbage.

Beaton first organized an eight day walk from where Dump Site 41 would be built to Queen’s Park. It was called The Walk for Water. He saw the trek as bringing “attention to the Sacred Waters of the Alliston Aquifer and the tributaries that run into Georgian Bay.”

Following the Walk Water Beaton organized an occupation of the site. It blockaded excavation machines from digging up the Sacred Mother Earth of the Peacemaker’s World.

What made Beaton’s passion so powerful is that he knew how to be arrested with dignity and power. It was a majestic dignity that the Peacemaker’s words of “Peace, Power and Righteousness” resounded
from the ancient times from of his ancestors.

Beaton was arrested on the blockade line by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers. At the time of his arrest he was submitting his photographs of the struggle to First Nations Drum and News From Indian Country. At the time he was using an upright log for his desk and sitting on a lawn chair. After being put into handcuffs he was taken to the OPP Midland Detachment Center.

Beaton distinguished himself by refusing to sign a release form. By doing so he would have pledged never to enter the dump site again. He later explained how, “I felt someone had to show the world that
this was all crazy”.

Beaton told the Justice of the Peace at his trial that “somebody had to stop the rape of Mother Earth.” At this point, he later recalled, “I felt like crying because of all the chaos that was happening but no justice for Mother Earth.”

In refusing to sign the form Beaton’s words were simple but eloquent. He told reporters, “Who Will Speak to the Water?” These were his last words to the press before spending three days in prison, before his bail hearing.

Beaton’s words of the need to speak for the water came at the right time to stop Dump Site 41. This is because when he went to prison the nonviolent struggle of peaceful resistance to save the world’s purest
water had taken on the form of a great scientific experiment. It exposed the lies of the engineering professionals that had been used to deceive the voting public of Simcoe County.

When the resisters held the line against the bulldozers the water that flowed out of the Dump Site 41 site remained pure. As soon as the blockade was breached by the force of the OPP the water that flowed out
became dirty.

The stain on the water became a dirty mark upon the politicians who backed Dump Site 41. If so much damage could be caused by simply digging a pit, what people reasoned, would be caused by dumping garbage into it?

During Beaton’s three days in prison where his biggest complaint was the impurity of the water, an outraged public opinion caused everything to change. Incensed citizens mobilized and phoned their
councilors, denouncing them for believing the lies of the engineers.

When Beaton arrived in the Barrie Simcoe County court house, everything had changed. He was released in the knowledge that work on Dump Site 41 had been halted.

The excavations were healed by restorative work. Eventually easements were put on the land by the Ontario Farmland Trust, to ensure that this prime Class One soil would remain in agricultural use forever.

Beaton a few years later came to the rescue to another threat to the cold pure waters that feed the cold water trout streams that flow into lower Georgian Bay. This new threat was termed the Dufferin County mega quarry.

Much like Dump Site 41 before Beaton’s involvement, opponents of a mega mile quarry on Canada’s best potato growing land had been getting nowhere. Farm houses and buildings were burned down. Their debris clogged local dumps. Forests were clear cut in violation of tree protection by laws. Fence rows were ripped up.

Beaton met with the organizers of opposition in a corporate law office on Bay Street. He told them, literally, to “Take a Hike.”

By suggesting they take a hike Beaton meant they should follow the example the stopped Dump Site 41. He called for a procession from Queen’s Park, the seat of political power which could kill the Mega Quarry, to the site of the proposed giant pit. The march was held and captured the public’s imagination.
This sparked by death of the scheme through the unusual imposition of an Environmental Assessment.

After the end of the five day trek Beaton and I were led by one of the organizers Smiling Yogi to a place where he promised we would appreciated what the hike was all about. He took us to one of the magnificent cold water streams of Huronia.

Yogi took us to a White Cedar Brook Trout stream which is an important tributary for the cold water Nottawasaga River flowing into Georgian Bay. Here Brook Trout leaped through its sparkling fast running waters, laced with riffles, runs and pools. It was lined with verdant green watercress.

Beaton is now focused on protecting the Nottawasaga River and the Minesing Wetlands from the polluted storm water that is set to flow from urban expansion in Midhurst. His passion for Mother Earth gives substance to the call of the public consultation document for the expansion of the Greenbelt in Huronia called appropriately, “Protecting Water.” The document exposes how urban sprawl is a threat to the wetlands and trout streams that nourish Georgian Bay. But he expresses it was t through the wisdom of native people who see sacred waters as Mother Earth’s blood.

Click here for a pdf copy of the article.


Having native wisdom on Ontario conservation authorities would be a good idea.

Progress via bringing back the provincial appointees and having aboriginal voices heard.

john becky danny
(l) Danny Beaton, Becky Big Canoe, Dr. John Bacher, Photo by Les Stewart

An original article from Dr. John Bacher: (pdf)

Review of Conservation Authorities Act Critical to Bringing Native Wisdom For Ecological Restoration.
From now up to October 19th there is a brief window of opportunity for the public to have a say in the governance of the key government entity that fosters ecological restoration-Conservation Authorities. Created under provincial legislation in 1946 and slowly adopted often over great resistance by municipal governments, conservation authorities have been the single biggest force in restoring forest cover in southern Ontario. Under their guidance this has soared from 9.7 to 25.2 per cent. This healing of the earth brought an end to marching deserts and flooding of cities sparked by deforestation.

It is not widely understood that the terrible crash in forest cover to 9.7 per cent in southern Ontario in 1943 on the eve of the proclamation of the Conservation Authorities Act, was a ruinous consequence of brutal Euro-Canadian displacement of native peoples. They had traditions of responsible care for natural that evolved over thousands of years. Ojibway author Leanne Simpson has observed that the mess was so great “it is difficult to envision the place that my ancestors called home.”

Simpson’s lament is found in her essay, “Liberated Peoples, Liberated Lands”, a published in a book “Buffalo Shout: Salmon Cry”. Its publication is intended as a step in reconciliation. She explains how the healthy ecosystems of our region two centuries ago were a product of, “The knowledge systems, the educational systems, the political systems of indigenous peoples were designed to promote life.” Through such respect, “An ancient old growth forest of White Pine stretched from Curve Lake down to the shore of Lake Ontario; the forest had virtually no understory but a bed of pine needles.”

Simpson notes that “Throughout Canada’s colonial history there has always been a small group of settlers that has refused to uphold the system, that have chosen not to follow the inherited mandate of their forefathers.” Such a dedicated exemplar of defending the traditions of our province’s native peoples was a close friend of mine, Brian Wiles-Heaps.

Wiles-Heap worked closely with the Iroquois Confederacy in important ecological actions such as their occupation of the Dunnville Weir of the Grand River in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The occupation was a protest against the flooding of Iroquois lands in the 19th century by the Grand River Navigation Company.

A bold ecologist, inspired by traditional Iroquois teachings such as the Great Law of Peace, Wiles-Heaps subsequently went on to another important task-protecting the world’s tallest trees, the California Redwoods, from corporate pillage. For understanding the problems which will hopefully be addressed by the current government’s review of the Conservation Authorities Act, it is important to understand how Wiles-Heap was able to progress in his efforts to restoration.

Wiles-Heaps got nowhere with the municipally appointed members of the Grand River Conservation Authority Board,. They continued to champion the abuses of the past and even supported schemes to canalize the river. However, Wiles-Heap through the provincially appointed members of the board, notably the Chairman, Archie MacRobbie, helped secure the Grand River Strategy for Management of a Heritage River. It was signed in 1994 by MacRobbie and the then Minister of Natural Resources, Bud Wildman.

After Wiles-Heaps left Ontario to save the Redwoods I inquired as to how progress was going in securing advice from the traditional Iroquois Confederacy government. I was shocked to discover that this all ceased in 1996 after the passage of the Omnibus Bill by the then Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris. After the bill passed the chair and the other four provincially appointed members of the conservation authority board were all expelled the native voice in its deliberations were silenced. Into limbo went of the efforts through the land claim, of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy to restore forest cover alongside streams to enhance fish habitat.

The silencing of the native voice was part of a broader disturbing pattern the capture of conservation authority boards by real estate interests associated with municipalities. This I found in Niagara, through my efforts, ultimately successful to protect the Ramsey Road Forest, a threatened wetland from developers. The wetland was upgraded from locally to provincially significant through the dedicated work of Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority staff. Their field work discovered the presence of previously undocumented Black Gum trees and breeding habitat for the endangered Blue-Spotted Salamander. The brave people who worked to protect the forest were subsequently fired through development pressure

Another disgraceful firing episode of conservation authority staff for defending forests and wetlands took place in 2013, 2014 in the Nottawsaga Valley Conservation Authority. Senior Planner for the authority, Patti Young, was fired after a May 29, 2013 letter to Springwater Township. The letter raised a number of questions about proposed urban expansions in the township. This was followed by the June 5, 2014 firing of the Chief Executive Officer of the authority, who had served for 22 years, Wayne Wilson.

Wilson’s firing was associated with the release of watershed report cards, one of which Wilson Creek, drew attention to problems arising from urban expansions recommended by the Midhurst Secondary Plan. The report card documented how 141 hectares of forest had been lost in this watershed through development. Such loss threatened the minimal cover “that is needed to support healthy wildlife habitat. It also documented the loss of 14 hectares of wetland, “mostly associated with development activity.” Through urbanization the report card found that stream health was “continuing to decline.”

Wiles-Heaps’ work to express the views of the traditional Iroquois Confederacy in government forums has been continued by the Danny Beaton, a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan. Beaton has become a strong voice for the restoration of provincial appointees on conservation authority boards, and securing native representation, especially for the traditional Iroquois Confederacy.

Beaton attended a public meeting on September 18th in Newmarket on the future of the Conservation Authorities Act. After this session, he gave an eloquent call for public participation in the consultations. He observed that, “So we have a coalition of earth based organizations with a common vision of the sacredness of Mother Earth, forests, plants, lakes, rivers and wetlands. Now it is up to use if we will now begin to heal and really fight for her safety, health and the gifts that she gives us humans. We as the humans have the honour and duty to be a voice for Creation, the animals, birds, fish and insects. So I ask your leaders concerned for Mother Earth to unite with the native people who have the experience and blood lines to work together now while there is still hope of restoring Mother Earth back to good health for our children. We need to work on opening our hearts and minds like good hearted people who belong to our Mother Earth, be spiritually creative, building and organizing ourselves to be strategic and loving.

To have input into the Conservation Authorities Act by October 19th send an email to mnrwaterpolicy@ontario.ca

John Bacher PhD is an environmental writer, researcher and consultant, JohnBacherPhD.ca. Danny Beaton is a Mohawk elder who protects Mother Earth, DannyBeaton.ca. Originally published on DemocracyWatchSimcoe.ca with photos by Les Stewart MBA, LesStewartConsulting.ca.

Originally posted on DemocracyWatchSimcoe.ca.

Save French’s Hill Forest article by Dr. John Bacher and Danny Beaton

Is a Waverley Mega Quarry in Tiny Township, Simcoe County worth this threat to the Alliston Aquifer…again?

20150926 321
(l): Dr. Bacher and DannyBeaton. Photos by Les Stewart, SpringwaterParkcc.org

An original article from Dr. John Bacher: (pdf)

Save French’s Hill Forest

Tiny Township is blessed to have some of the rarest and largest old growth forests in southern Ontario south of the Canadian Shield, an ecosystem known as the Mixed Woods Plains. It is tragic that one of the best examples of this precious and threatened relic of Turtle Island before the impact of Euro-Canadian colonization, is now threatened by a proposed zoning amendment. It would change the zoning of lands now protected as Rural and Agricultural and designated as Significant Forest by Tiny Township, to permit the expansion of the existing Beamish quarry.

In addition to devastating forests the Beamish quarry expansion proposal is an attack on the world’s purest water, the same important source for the Alliston Aquifer that was battled over in the long struggle against Dump Site 41. Elaine Stephenson a champion of the French’s Hill Forest, has explained how she appreciated from childhood how the purity of her well water from this unusual geological feature. On this basis the quarry scheme was denounced by a leading foe of Dump Site 41, Stephen Odgen, at a October 13, 2009 meeting of the Tiny Township Council.

Part of the opposition that the Beamish scheme encountered when it was put forward at two meeting of Tiny Township Council in the winter of 2015 was that the pit proposal should not go forward until the work of he Severn Sound Environmental Association on the natural heritage of Tiny Township is properly reflected in its land use planning and zoning documents. This is an excellent critique since current land use planning both in Tiny Township and throughout Simcoe County does not make the best use of scientific studies of wildlife habitat, forest cover and old growth.

The critique of residents who have mobilized themselves into a Save the Waverly Uplands alliance is bolstered by the background environmental research that has been done into the provincially significant woodlands that surround the existing Beamish quarry. The work of the Severn Sound group builds on an earlier study, which in a tragically slow way, is shaping environmental planning in Simcoe County. This is report on “The Development of a Natural Heritage System for Simcoe County.” It was prepared by the Gartner Lee engineering firm for the Simcoe County Council in 1996.

The Gartner Lee report, now almost two decades old, provides a reasonable way in which to protect Simcoe County’s forests. It called for the protection of large blocks of forests of around 40 hectares in size, which is responsible for the current mapping of French’s Hill as a provincially significant woodland. Such woodlands straddle both sides of the border between Tiny and Tay townships.

The slowness in the adaption of the Garner Lee report into the Simcoe County official plan is one of the reasons the municipality has been ridiculed by the respected Neptis Foundation as the “Wild West” of urban sprawl.

The Gartner Lee study recognizes that, “The extensive tracts of forests” that are found in Tiny Township “are important habitat for a number of forest interior species as well as for mammals such as Black Bear, Martin and Fisher which have large home ranges.”

The Gartner Lee report recognizes the value of the large tracts of forests that endure in Tiny Township that are old growth as surrounds the Beamish quarry. It expressed amazement that here there are still “vast tracts of forest” in predominately hardwood old growth conditions. They are it stressed, a vivid contrast to the coniferous plantations established in other parts of Simcoe County to rescue it from desertification.

The old growth forests of Tiny Township Garner Lee stressed “represent the last vestiges of what southern-Ontario looked like in pre-settlement times. Unlike much of southern Ontario, where the original woodlands have become highly fragmented” these forest remain in “unbroken forest blocks.” Such conditions it found are important for wildlife as “refuges from predation” for “foraging habitat” and to secure “diversity in the landscape.”

The insights of the Gartner Lee report in protecting the old growth forests of southern Ontario are reflected in the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Natural Heritage Manual. They stress that old growth forests “are particularly valuable for several reasons, including their contributions of species genetics and ecosystem diversity.” One obvious example of this is that their survival allow winds and birds to transfer native hardwood species to managed plantation forests.

The MNR manual provides a careful definition of what constitutes an old growth forest. This is done through hitting any of three measures, age (around 100 years), basal area or diameter width. One basic approach is 10 or more trees at least 50 cm in diameter per hectare, or 8 trees of the same area of 40 cm.

When I saw tree cutting recently at French’s Hill I was horrified to see an old growth forest slashed for no apparent reason than to downgrade its rating in the MNR manual. The forest was of predominately giant sugar maples, regenerating in a healthy fashion with a blanket of seedlings. However, the quite recently stumps seemed to offer proofs that many giants had been cut with the deliberate purpose of reducing the density per hectare required to be considered an old growth forest.

Danny Beaton a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan has viewed the destruction of the French’s Hill Forest. On it he notes, that “The Nanfan Treaty states that the Iroquois Confederacy have a right to hunt and fish on our shared territories with the Ojibway, Huron and Wendat Nations in Georgian Bay. Why do corporations continuing to rape and pillage our forests, wetlands and water ways in Georgian Bay? Why do company’s continue to stake claim to the last endangered trees and forests with immunity from County of Simcoe Governance.? Why are citizens being ignored in county meetings that are set up for citizen participation and shared authority over land rights and development.? Are the lawyers, architects and engineers who support developers, the real threat to Mother Earth? Through unity and focus then can we organize our self for change and environmental protection through peaceful building and organizing our self. During Site 41 a unity of citizens, farmers and Torontonians emerged to defend and protect the Alliston Aquifer. Then the mega quarry was denounced by citizens, farmers, and native and good lawyers. We as citizens of Ontario must unite with the Conservation Authority, Environmental Organizations, Farmers, Native Nations and Good Minds with Good Hearted People before everything is cut down or polluted. Mother Earth is being raped on the French Hill in Waverly. The developer will say he bought the land which is old growth Sugar Maples and other hard wood trees so that all should be clear cut for a quarry As a Mohawk man with grade 6 education I can tell you from our Traditional Culture no one has the right to destroy this large unique incredibly beautiful healing place full of creation for our children’s children.”
20150926 470Posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org and iLoveMidhurst.ca.

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