• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Ministry alerted to water treatment needs on Christian Island

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In Indigenous
Feb 27th, 2011
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By Sharon Weatherall Midland Free Press Feb 24 2011
Beausoleil First Nation council is in the pre-approval stage for funding assistance to upgrade the water treatment plant on Christian Island. Without $100,000 for improvements the system could let in impurities that would taint water quality in the community. 
While environmental and water issues have become a top priority across the province, Chief Roly Monague says getting the funding for this project has not been easy. For months now the band council has been battling government for funding to make necessary the improvements at the water treatment facility and finally their voices have been heard.
The Chief says he takes his role very seriously when it comes to the meeting the needs of his people and took advantage of a random opportunity to discuss water concerns with the Minister of Indian Affairs before Christmas. During the session, Monague explained a state-of-the-art water plant was commissioned in 1999 for the island community to remove 99 percent of impurities from the water but the membranes are now aging and need replacement. 
“As the membranes deteriorate there is a possibility of bacteria getting through. A proposal to INAC in August came back saying there was no funding available for this project even though water and economy projects are supposed to a priority. I sent a letter to them voicing my concerns about what would happen if the water shuts down in the winter and it was still turned down,” said Monague. 
“The letter I received was very disappointing -it thanked me for my letter and offered no response or information of a report forthcoming to say why it (the proposal) was not considered. We have looked at it with the engineers and will be doing a report to dispute what INAC was saying. I will do what it takes to provide services for my community.” 
In December during a chance meeting with the Minister of Indian Affairs, Monague was able to share concerns regarding the CI water situation. On August 6, 2010, John Morris Duncan, PC, MP, was appointed to the Canadian Cabinet as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. The original meeting between the Minister, cabinet and three First Nation communities involving a land claim approval process had been cancelled but Monague used the opportunity to discuss the Christian Island’s deteriorating water membrane system with the Minister.
“The minister asked for an update on the ferry and for research on the membrane. I received a call last week from Ontario Region INAC regarding pre-approval and the need for more information which we are getting ready now,” said Monague. 
“The cost to fix it is $100,000 which is not a lot considering that it could start letting bacteria through. It was hard enough to negotiate the project when I was on council -it took years to get the approval. Prior to that there were different pump houses that serviced 18 homes. We received water treatment training from Tiny Township and I got to know the process inside and out. I was a good person on that project because I was knowledgeable about it.” 
Water treatment plants are not the only thing Monague is experienced in -he spend ten years in the military, was a police officer and has worked on community development on the island. His father Alfred King, was the successful entrepreneur who founded King Charcoal’ and supplied kiln made charcoal across North America from a factory he built on the island. The business was sold to the First Nations after gas BBQ’s came out and the demand for charcoal diminished. 
Prior to the most recent election Chief Monague spent four two years terms sitting at the band table. After the past six months trying to get a handle on the position, reviewing ongoing projects and having to juggle several duties, Monague says things are leveling out to the point where he can concentrate on what he was elected to do. In the meantime council has hired a new temporary administrator -Denis Graham, who is helping a lot. 
“We would like to have her on a fulltime basis and if she is successful at interviews she will be hired. She is doing a fantastic job so far,” said Monague. 
“We have also hired a finance person -Shawn Fitzgerald who is originally from East Coast and now lives in Kitchener Ontario. So both of them have taken and big load off of my responsibilities allowing me to functions as chief.”

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