Protecting our waters - sharing our stories

Submitted by Michael V. Smith and Susan Staves

Owen Sound Water Treatment Plant Opening . Jim Stranks Presenting
MNO Great Lakes Métis Councilor Jim Stranks, speaking during theGrand Opening Ceremony of Owen Sound's Secondary LevelTreatment Plant on September 20, 2017. Click here for larger picture.
Water is sacred and is an important element that has influenced the very history of the Métis peoples of Ontario. As stated in the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Statement of Prime Purpose Métis are as a people intimately connected to the land and waterways surrounding the Great Lakes:

“We, the Métis are a people of the lands, which gave rise to our history and tradition and culture. We call those lands the Métis Homelands. The Homelands stretch from the lakes and rivers of Ontario; cross the wide prairies, traverse the mountains into British Columbia . . .”

A strong connection to this history and a desire to protect the lands and waters still exists among Métis peoples in Ontario as evidenced by two events that recently took place in the Owen Sound area.

On Tuesday September 19, 2017, MNO citizens from the MNO Great Lakes Métis Council (GLMC), Pauline Richardson, the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) Region 7 Councilor and Chair of the Georgian Bay Consultation Committee as well as other Consultation Committee members joined with representatives from Saugeen Ojibway Nation and all three levels of government to participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the City of Owen Sound’s upgraded Secondary Level Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Speaking at the ceremony, MNO GLMC Councillor Jim Stranks said: “I wish to thank the City of Owen Sound, the Province of Ontario, and the Government of Canada for their diligence and effort in the renovation and upgrading of this waste water treatment facility. It is and will continue to be a symbol to the Métis community, of the respect which is held by these several levels of government, for the natural resources of land, water and wildlife.”

Mudtown Plaque Family Kin Couture And Hillyers And Leclairs
MNO citizens with the MNO Great Lakes Métis Council anddignitaries gather during the Métis of Mudtown plaque dedicationceremony, held on Friday September 22, 2017. Click here for larger picture.
Work to upgrade the wastewater plant from a primary to secondary level treatment facility – the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the City of Owen Sound – began in the summer of 2014, with Ottawa and Queen’s Park both contributing $15 million toward the final cost of the project through the Green Infrastructure Fund. Since the city has upgraded to a secondary level wastewater treatment facility, the quality of the effluent being re-introduced into the Great Lakes has significantly improved. A primary level of sewage treatment, which Owen Sound used to have, did nothing to eliminate ammonia from wastewater. “Ammonia is the parameter with the biggest impact on the environment”, says Owen Sound’s Manager of Water and Wastewater, Matt Prentice. Now, “there’s almost no ammonia in the effluent” being released into our waterways.

The MNO was involved in the consultation process, which was undertaken during the strategic planning stage of development. The treatment plant sits on an historic Métis settlement called “Mudtown,” that was settled by many of the Métis who came as a result of the Drummond Island migration of 1828. A plaque ceremony to dedicate a plaque honouring that community took place on Friday, September 22, 2017, with MNO citizens and council representatives present including members of the historic families who can trace their ancestry back to Mudtown.

The impressive plaque provides a significant amount of the history of Mudtown and some of its earliest Métis families and states:

“Through the twentieth century many Métis families continued to live in Mudtown including names such as Coture, Hillyer, Sylvest, Desjardins, Edmonstone, Hamilton, Angel, Robinson and Jones. Mudtown falls within the area represented by the Great Lakes Métis Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario, and remains an indivisible part of the Métis Nation within Ontario as well as the larger Métis Nation. Today, the Métis of Mudtown proudly stand with others across the province who share the same history, goals and vision for the future of the Métis in Ontario.” 

Posted: October 2, 2017

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