Honoring Native people

Dear Editor:

A controversial day is approaching on Oct. 11 this year. Here in Maine, it has rightfully been changed to Indigenous Peoples Day by Governor Mills in order to honor the Indigenous people in Maine who were first here. Replicas of Columbus ships were even turned away this past summer by several towns, also out of respect for indigenous first inhabitants.

How then could our same Governor stand behind the NECEC Corridor that has displaced and impoverished the Native people of Quebec? Shouldn’t they be respected too? Lucien Wabanonik, an elected councilor with Lac Simon’s band council in Quebec, explains:

“While the non-Indigenous majority profits off of HQ’s illegitimate dealings, our people suffer, with our well-being indicators now comparable to those of Third World countries. We are forced to live in deplorable conditions of poverty, and our suicide rate is five to seven times higher than the rest of Quebec. The Kitcisakik tribe is situated at the foot of one of HQ’s dams, yet they have no access to electricity, running water or wastewater management infrastructure.”

“As I write this today, there are 33 hydroelectric plants, 130 dams and dykes, 2.6 million acres of reservoirs, tens of thousands of kilometers of transmission and distribution lines and roads illegitimately operating on our ancestral territories. Hydro-Quebec doesn’t rightfully own 36 percent of its total installed electrical capacity, yet we’ve never been compensated for this massive taking.”

Rene Simon, chief of the Pessimit Innu First Nation of Quebec, also explains:

“With only one exception, all hydroelectric facilities have been built without impact assessment studies, without Pessamit’s consent, without compensation, and in violation with the Canadian Constitution and Pessamit’s fundamental human rights. Consequently, 29 percent of the electricity that Hydro-Quebec endeavors to sell in New England still originates from Pessamit territory and therefore is owned by Pessamit.”

If we in Maine do not reject the corridor, Mr. Wabanonik clearly stated in July that the tribes will sue the province of Quebec in Provincial Court because more than a third of the electricity will be produced from dams on land the tribes never ceded to the Canadian government.

If Maine’s Indigenous people are to be honored, why not also the Indigenous people of Quebec? Please join me and thousands of others in Maine who will vote “yes” in November to reject the corridor and this extreme disrespect for the native people of Quebec, even if our Governor will not.

Marjorie Monteleon

Southwest Harbor

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