Only after the last tree has been cut down.  Only after the last river has been poisoned.  Only after the last fish has been caught.  Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof." - Wingspread Statement of the Precautionary Principle.


Band Proposal Raises a Stink
The Leader-Post (
September 29, 2003

Saskatchewan 's great pig debate has moved to an Indian reserve, as members of the Poundmaker Cree Nation square off over a proposal to build a massive hog operation on the band's North Battleford -area reserve.

The $3-million project would see 10,000 pigs finished in one barn located in the northeast corner of the reserve. If it goes ahead, the barn would be the first intensive hog operation established on a Saskatchewan Indian reserve, said a provincial official.

Similar operations have encountered substantial opposition in areas of the province, a situation apparently about to play out at Poundmaker, located about 60 kilometres west of North Battleford .

"As time goes on, more and more people understand what this is all about," Eric Tootoosis, a reserve resident, said Sunday.

"They aren't against development. But the bottom line is we are mortgaging treaty land to enter an industry that has waste disposal and odour problems. It's scary."

Band officials could not be reached for comment.

But according to documents obtained by the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Poundmaker would own 75 per cent of the company that would manage the operation, in a partnership called Poundmaker Agri-Business Development Corporation (PADC). The minority partner would be a company called Synergetik2000 Special Projects Inc.

The band plans to borrow money from the Farm Credit Corporation to finance the investment, using its agricultural lease revenue, gaming revenue and land purchased with its treaty land entitlement (TLE) settlement as security for the loan. An environmental assessment would take place before the project proceeds.

Next month, the proposal will be put to a referendum, with separate votes scheduled for Saskatoon , North Battleford , Edmonton and on the reserve.

On Thursday, opponents of the project hope to convince the band membership to turn down the proposal at a public meeting scheduled to be held at the Cut Knife curling rink.

Invited to attend are band members, municipal representatives and officials from a nearby regional park. Representatives from the National Farmers Union and the Council of Canadians have also been asked. The two groups oppose intensive hog operations.

Tootoosis said the band would be setting a dangerous precedent if it decides to use land as security for a loan.

Indian bands can't pledge reserve land as security because it's held in trust by the Crown. However, the TLE selection the band plans to use as collateral hasn't been given reserve status.

"PADC does not have any assets other than the project," said a document which has gone to band members.

"If the project fails and is not a successful business venture, Farm Credit Canada will be asking Poundmaker and the TLE trustees to repay the loan."

Tootoosis said there also is growing concern about the environmental implications about the hog operation. As well, he said there's reason to doubt the project will generate much employment.

While Tootoosis said promoters have told some people close to 100 jobs will be created, a summary of the project said some band members may be hired, but there's no guarantee of employment opportunities.

Andy Jansen, manager of agriculture operations for the provincial Agriculture Department, said the federal Department of Indian Affairs has contacted the province about the proposal.

"To my knowledge, we haven't faced this situation in the past. Right now I don't think I could issue an approval. I can provide comments to the federal government, but it's in their jurisdiction."

A federal official could not be reached for comment.

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Conflict Erupts over Poundmaker Hog Proposal
CBC News Online
October 3, 2003

CUTKNIFE   - Leaders on a reserve west of North Battleford say a proposal to build a 10,000 pig operation won't go through, even though the company involved in the venture says that as far they are concerned, the deal is still on.

The chief and several councillors from the Poundmaker First Nation have been negotiating with Synergetik, an Edmonton-based hog company, for several months to build a hog operation there.

At a public meeting on the matter Thursday night, leaders said the deal was cancelled. When CBC contacted Synergetik, a spokesperson said the deal is still on, despite comments to the contrary. The spokesperson said that the operation will bring desperately needed employment to the reserve.

But band members have joined local cottage owners to oppose the barn because they are worried about what the operation could to their land and health.

Eric Tootoosis is one of those who lives on the reserve and opposes the project.

"To protect our lands, our pristine lands, to leave them as natural as possible," he says. "The lands belong to the unborn, not us and we appreciate the non-Indians, the non-Indian public for coming on side as soon as they understand more why we are protecting, why we are adamant that such an intiative should not exist."

He is also afraid that of health effects of such an operation, saying that hog operations affect the immune systems of those who live near them.

Even though the band is expected to vote on the proposal at the end of the month, Synergetik says that contracts have already been signed.

"If I'm the bad guy on this whole deal, versus $3 million, then I'd rather save my $3 million and know that we still have that land tomorrow," band councillor Bryan Tootoosis says.

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