Update – Flag taken from Elmvale flow spreads the call to protect the water
Dave Stock and Beth Brass Elson after flag is raised at the Elmvale flow. -AWARE Simcoe photo
By Kate Harries AWARE News Network February 20 2018
Someone took the Unity Flag within a day of its being raised at the Elmvale flow – but the word is out and increasing numbers are rallying to the cause, water protectors say.
“We thought that would happen,” Beth Brass Elson of Beausoleil First Nation said of the theft. “But it still did the job of getting the message out. If people want to steal it and take that karma home with them, they’re welcome. They can steal the flag but they can’t stop us from being united.”
Brass Elson and Dave Stock of Wahta Mohawk Territory raised the flag on Monday morning. It was taken overnight late Monday or early Tuesday.
“Everything happens for a reason,” water protector Erin Archer said. “The statement behind the placement of the Unity Flag has already travelled across North America.”
Indigenous people from all corners are reaching out, she added. “The movement has grown in numbers double-fold in just one day.”
Unity Flag at Elmvale flow signals coming together to protect the water
By Kate Harries AWARE News Network February 18 2019
As Beth Brass Elson of Beausoleil First Nation looked on, Dave Stock of Wahta Mohawk Territory raised the Unity Flag at the water flow north of Elmvale this morning.
“I’m here to help raise awareness for the water and help to see that that flag is flying high today,” she said. “It is the Unity Flag. some people mistake it for a warrior flag, but it’s a Unity Flag and it’s to bring people together and remind us that we have battles to fight – battles for water, battles for right for food, battles for our lives.”
As the flag went up, a continuous stream of people were coming and going with huge bottles they filled with water from the flow. Several expressed good wishes. The water is widely known, as tests by numerous scientists have shown it to be exceptionally clean.
But there’s concern the quality of the water is threatened by a proposed expansion by Cedarhurst Quarries (CRH Canada Group) of its aggregate operation at the Teedon Pit on the Simcoe Uplands Moraine.
The hill near Waverley, within sight of the flow, is the recharge area for the aquifer that feeds area artesian wells.
“A lot of people don’t understand what’s going on right here,” Stock explained. The flag is intended to draw attention, he said. “People are trying to get the word out and it’s hard to get it out.”
It represents unity of all people, because “no matter what, once the water is gone, we’re all gone.”
Brass Elson agreed. “We either have to stand or we’re gone out of here within 20 years, it’s come to that point in time.”
She’s well-known to local people as one of the leaders of the battle to stop Dump Site 41 – which centred on protecting the same water – for which she and three other Anishinaabe Kweag (women) were made Springwater citizens of the year 10 years ago.
That was Round One. “It was a long battle before we came on board around the 12th hour, and we’re getting 12th-hourish again so I think it’s time that we all got together … for the right to have clean water.” In Round Two, the Teedon Pit has been dubbed Site 42.
Local resident Erin Archer was at the flow today and all weekend, talking to people who were getting water about the proposed expansion, and handing out letters of concern for them to sign.
She was overwhelmed when Stock and Brass Elson arrived with the flag. “I just want to cry,” she said. The flag makes a statement “to say, ‘No, you are not taking the hill and we are standing united. We will stand together and we will protect the world’s purest water.’”
The Township of Tiny is opposing the quarry expansion, she said, and it’s important to support the municipality in its refusal to rezone the property. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is in charge of the public comment period, which expires March 25 2019.
Download letter here
A community open house is to be held Tuesday March 5 2019 from 4-7 pm at the Wyebridge Community Centre, with rally beforehand, starting at 3 pm.
See also Erin Archer’s water column in Thursday’s Springwater News for more information on how to make your views known on protecting the water.