Brad Sinclair's Daily Pulse: Wild Rice issue on Pigeon Lake

There is a war going on at Pigeon Lake. A rice war. The question is, Pigeon Lake there for all Canadians to enjoy, including the Pigeon Lake waterfront owners or is it one man's commercial opportunity.

This is what Pigeon Lake looked like in 2008 when I sold Paradise Island located in the middle of Pigeon Lake. (Across from Windward Acres)

This is what the lake looks like 10 years later.

There always been patches of wild rice in Pigeon Lake. It was never a concern. That was until James Whetung of Curve Lake started to seed the lake causing wild rice to take over the waterway. Mr. Whetung has said to have expanded the wild rice fields from less then 200 acres to 1200-1500 acres. Mr.Whetung harvests and sells at the Peterborough Farmers Market under the name Black Duck Wild Rice. 

Local waterfront owners have been trying to deal with the rice ever since. Clean up is back breaking work. Rice are pulled from the lake bed from boats, rough waters and manual cutting. It floats to shorelines and starts to rot.

This fight comes down to rights. Questions need to be answered. These are the questions that I have:

  1. Is the harvest of wild rice actually being used to feed the community of Curve Lake?
  2. Who has the rights to Pigeon Lake, Canada or First Nations?
  3. What does the William Treaty Harvesting Guild say about commercial seeding and harvesting?
Is this really a battle of a sovereign nation claiming feeding rights for their community? Or is it one man commercially seeding and harvesting rice for his own profits? Does he share the profits with the community of Curve Lake?

It has been said that Indigenous People have lived here for over 10,000 years and Pilgrim White People have only been here for 200 years. This argument gives Mr. Whetung the right to seed a Lake that is owned by the Crown? That argument also gives Mr. Whetung the right to use an airboat to harvest? Really? This same argument says residence has zero rights? Because they been here longer? That argument make no sense to me.

Selwyn's new Mayor has made some promises to Selwyn residence.

"As Mayor of Selwyn I will champion your efforts to be provided answers. As you know I have extensive experience dealing with senior levels of government in general and indigenous issues more specifically. I have a long track record of getting things done."
In moving forward I would propose the following:

  1. Engage the Federal and Provincial government at both a political and bureaucratic level. As Municipal representatives our perspective needs to be heard and considered. I am prepared to go to Ottawa and Toronto to make our case
  2. As a Township we should engage FCM, AMO and ROMA to garner municipal allies in approaching the Federal and Provincial governments to outline approaches to assist municipalities in accommodating the exercise of Treaty rights
  3. Reach out to other municipalities to identify best practices in addressing similar situations
  4. Engage with the First Nations covered by the Williams Treaty to identify concerns and to develop an appropriate and respectful dialogue
  5. In the context of the Williams Treaty and subsequent affirmations, use the joint council meetings with Curve Lake to discuss perspectives and seek common understandings
  6. Advocate that the Township have a meaningful role on any working group developed to address the issue of wild rice
  7. In order to ensure property owners are kept up to date and have a venue to express their concerns, as Mayor I would strike a working group of property owners and the ward councillor to keep residents informed on progress and to receive input. This process could begin with a town hall meeting to allow a fulsome exchange of perspectives
There is a group formed called Save Pigeon Lake. who is trying to solve this issue. (Some information and pictures on this blog came from their site) They are holding a Community Meeting November 3/2018 at the Ennismore Arena at 2PM. Agenda includes concerns, history and guest speakers.

I am hopeful that the Andy Mitchel and the Federal Government will step up and lend a hand. I am sure there is a solution to satisfy both residence and First Nations. This issue can not be ignored any longer. There is no reason that our two nations can not co-operate with each other for the greater good. For that to happen there must be a meeting take place.

Written for you by:

Your local Realtor®

If you are looking to either Buy or Sell in Selwyn or Peterborough contact me immediately at 705-927-6236

Brad Sinclair, Sales Representative
Royal LePage Frank Real Estate Brokerage
Making Real Estate "Real" since 2007


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