Revisit the text at the beginning of this lesson. Talk to the children about how Indigenous councils were traditionally formed and the process they used in making decisions.
In your textbook Investigating Past Societies, read page 96, then look at the example on page 97 of a decision that a Wolastoqewiyik community might have made in the past regarding how to support themselves through the winter months. It will help if you watch the short video on the Talking Circle by Elder George Paul, at 5:37 in the ‘Ceremonies’ video at Culture Studies Videos — Wabanaki Collection.
Now read the summary of the Species at Risk Youth Summit about the results of the meeting held in March 2017.
The Youth Summit report was posted on the Madawaska First Nation website in July 2017. Imagine that Susan Gagnon has stood up in the Talking Circle and just made the following speech.
- Choose someone in the class to read this speech as an oral presentation.
- Using the step-by-step approach found on page 96 of the textbook, discuss this issue as if you were at the Youth Summit.
- Use a Talking Circle approach to come to a decision.
SPECIES AT RISK YOUTH SUMMIT
By Susan Gagnon
I’m the proud mother of four beautiful children who are band members of the MMFN (Madawaska Maliseet First Nation). On March 30th, 2017, I chaperoned/participated at a meeting for the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council (MNCC) Youth Summit in Fredericton, accompanied by two of my children. There, we learned many interesting facts about water dams and how they are toxic to our rivers and species living in or near it. I wasn’t aware that this efficient way to generate electricity could be so damaging; let me explain why:
- The dam wall blocks fish migration
- It alters the river’s chemical composition
- Lower dissolved oxygen levels
- Dams adversely affect the river’s physical properties and coastlines
All of these factors make our water no longer suitable for aquatic plants and animals, causing fish and plants to die or depopulate to near extinction. Overall, in my opinion, hydropower is a non-polluting, renewable energy source, but does have an impact on the environment and our water. Many Maliseets (Wolastoqewiyik) who live near the St. John River pointed out during the Summit the difference of the land both before, and after the dam was built. Elders who attended the Youth Summit told us how before the dam they could fish in a circle with their baskets and catch a day’s meal. Now, it can’t be done because there just aren’t enough fish and “everything is so polluted”. Additionally, the health of the river and ecosystem not only concerns First Nations’ people, but all of us. We should all want a healthy river and ecosystem. And now that we are aware, I am hoping that we stop building dams. We do have the technology to get our power without damaging nature. I would love to someday see the St. John River healthy once again. But first, the dams would need to come down. It would take years, patience, and hope, but I would like to see it how it once was.