May 31, 2011

'Get out'

By Jeff Labine, 30 May 2011

Fort William First Nation members say they want Horizon Wind Inc. to take their plans for a wind farm on the Nor’Wester mountains somewhere else.

The First Nation community held a discussion panel with spokespersons from Horizon Wind at the Fort William First Nation Community Centre on Monday.

More than 100 people attended the meeting along with Anishinabek Police Service officers. Officials with Horizon had planned to present a slide show, but the agenda soon changed.

Instead, community members lined up to voice their opposition to the project. Some told stories about what the mountain meant to them and others gave promises to stand against Horizon no matter what.

“You’re fighting a losing battle, just get out,” one resident shouted.

Jordan Morriseau, 30, usually hunts in the fall and said the turbines would impact his traditional hunting grounds and cause damage to endangered species that live on and around the mountain. He’s fighting against the project for environmental and cultural reasons, he said.

“That’s prime moose habitat up there,” Morriseau said. “We live off moose, it’s one of our main foods. The wind farm would be detrimental to our way of life.”

The company has received approval from the city to build eight turbines on the mountain range, after threatening a $126-million lawsuit when city officials in October rejected the location of several turbines. The project must still meet the standards set out by the province, through a renewable energy approval application. The province has already rejected Horizon’s REA application once.

Alex Legarde shared Morriseau’s concerns about the project. Legarde said he had questions he wanted answered, wondering if building the turbines would destroy hunting grounds. He’s concerned because hunting and trapping are his livelihood, he said.

Legarde hoped the project wouldn’t go through, he said.

Shane Wells, 31, went to the mic to speak a few times. He said he doesn’t know much about wind turbines, but he does know his community doesn’t want them and felt the two spokespersons for the company didn’t care what the community had to say.

“They could have put an audio recorder down and said see you all tomorrow and I`ll take that back to my boss,” Wells said. “I`ll give them the recorder of what was said. Oh they don’t like it, well just throw it away.”

Wyatt Bannon, one of organizers of the meeting, said he’s just one voice of many representing people who oppose the project. Horizon Wind is trying to build in an area that is sacred to the community and that development has to stop, he said.

No matter Horizon decides, the community is prepared to do to stop them, he said.

“We`ll do whatever it takes,” Bannon said. “We will not let it happen. Anybody to even consider putting those things up in such a pristine area are ignorant to everything people have worked. You don’t go into a watershed. That’s a no-brainer. It’s to protect the water. For these guys its money but for us it’s a lot more. It’s life.”

Following the meeting, officials with Horizon Wind weren’t available for comment.

URL to article: