Algonquin identity appropriated with new nuclear building
Kebaowek First Nation denounces claims of Indigenous engagement in response to a December 3, 2021 announcement by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), naming a new site entrance building at Chalk River Laboratories as the "Minwamon Building", which means ‘clear path’ in the Algonquin language.
CNL claims to have been gifted the Minwamon name by the "Algonquins of Ontario" (AOO) as a “way to recognize our commitment to working together towards healing and reconciliation”.
This announcement comes at the expense of Kebaowek First Nation and other Algonquin Nations who are the rightful title holders. The "Algonquins of Ontario" are not a legitimate entity, but a corporate body created by the Ontario and federal governments in order to negotiate a land claim. The AOO’s eligibility, enrolment and negotiation process is intended to negatively impact the rights and title of the legitimate citizens of the entire Algonquin Nation, including the Kebaowek First Nation.
In active dialogue with both Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and the nuclear regulator, we have insisted that the "Algonquins of Ontario" are not an entity entitled to consultation on projects in our territory, and they certainly do not represent our interests. Despite our clear position, we continue to witness attempts to extinguish our rights as governments and businesses turn to them for easy Indigenous buy-in for nuclear projects.
This announcement comes as a shock and calls into question the good faith of AECL and CNL to engage with Kebaowek. We were never approached nor asked about the naming of this facility, despite our requests to formalize consultations with them on numerous nuclear matters at the site.
Kebaowek First Nation is one of eleven representing the Algonquin Nation in Canada. Their land has never been relinquished through treaty; they were never consulted when the nuclear facilities at Chalk River were established in the 1940s. Faced with many significant nuclear projects and radioactive waste legacies -- on Algonquin territory -- Kebaowek First Nation has objected to continuing the nuclear industry on their lands without appropriate accommodation on their rights.
They also continue to call for a suspension of the small modular reactor project proposed at Chalk River until such time as meaningful consultation and cooperation have occurred.
Chief Lance Haymond , Kebaowek First Nation