Six Nations and Wellington Water Watchers resist the corporate extraction of water in Ontario

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Makaśa Looking Horse of the Six Nations of the Grand River says: “Nestlé’s presence on our land causes permanent harm to our people and Mother Earth.”

Peace Brigades International-Switzerland has forwarded to us an alert from MultiWatch, a Basel-based organization that visibilizes human rights violations by Swiss transnational corporations including Vevey-based Nestlé S.A.

Last month, it was announced that Nestlé Waters North America would be sold to the private equity firms One Rock Capital Partners and Metropoulos & Co for $4.3 billion.

The sale would include the Nestlé owned well in Aberfoyle, located near Guelph, Ontario, that is permitted to extract 3.6 million litres of water per day.

There is currently a moratorium on new or expanded permits for water taking for bottling operations in Ontario. That moratorium, however, allows Nestlé to continue to extract water in Aberfoyle even though the permit for that operation expired in 2016.

Guelph Today reports: “Wellington Water Watchers chair Rob Case has called on Jeff Yurek, Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, to extend this moratorium and to not allow any active permits to transfer to the new company.”

Wellington Water Watchers is also calling on Minister Yurek to commit to phasing out permits to bottle water in Ontario.

Notably, the Aberfoyle well is on Six Nations territory in Ontario.

Makaśa Looking Horse says: “Nestlé’s presence on our land causes permanent harm to our people and Mother Earth.”

She highlights: “The Indigenous people of Six Nations, should always be at the table when the health of our water is at stake. We should have a say about the permits and our own water is governed. The reality is that we are rarely included in these conversations.”

In June 2019, Looking Horse read this cease and desist letter from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council to Nestlé. That letter stated: “Pursuant to the Haldimand Proclamation and the 1701 Nanfan Treaty, Nestlé sits on Haudenosaunee territory upon which it is carrying out illegal activity in removing aquifer waters from under our territory. We hold ancestral title to these lands, territories and waters.”

Wellington Water Watchers has also advocated that the Aberfoyle well should be returned to the Six Nations of the Grand River.

And yet the water takings by Nestlé continue.

The provincial moratorium on new and expanded permits expires on April 1. The sale of Nestlé Waters North America is expected to close this spring.

Peace Brigades International-Canada recognizes the human right to water and the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent. PBI accompanies Indigenous land defenders and water protectors in Latin America who experience threats, harassment, criminalization and judicialization for their activism. 

For more, you can watch the podcast series noted below by clicking here.

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