Musicians Join Indigenous Coalition’s Efforts to Call Metrolinx to Bury 1.5 km of Eglinton Crossto
Milky Chance join call to protect access to First Nation’s ancestral lands by the Humber River
Media release for immediate release: June 1, 2023
On May 31st, Milky Chance joined Indigenous youth agency ENAGB (Eshkiniigjik Naandwechigegamic, Aabiish Gaa Binjibaaying, meaning “A Place for Healing Our Youth, Where Did We come From?”), Sierra Club Canada, Stop the Trains in Our Parks (STOP), Mount Dennis Community Association (MDCA) and the Mount Dennis eco-Neighbourhood Initiative and Greenpeace to fight for a portion of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE) to be buried underground. The groups joined together to fight to protect indigenous access to ancestral lands that currently host cultural activities and sacred ceremonies for indigenous, adjacent to the Humber River.
You can download high-quality images and video of the event here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1bz4bKFrm-9cVc85Jzs6Be2iVPjahx1jb?usp=sharing
Quotes from representatives and contact information can be found below.
Lead by Dr. Hopi Martin (Edge of the Bush) and Turtle Island Carers of Fire, Milky Chance volunteered alongside ENAGB’s indigenous youth, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, and Greenpeace to honour and ceremonially grieve the thousands of trees lost due to the pending construction. Volunteers tied ceremonial ribbons and offered sacred tobacco to the surrounding urban forests. Milky Chance also assisted with tending to ENAGB’s lodge grounds by Humber River.
ENAGB licensed a parcel of the land from the City of Toronto in 2020, and since then have built lodges for traditional ceremony, removed invasive plant species, and grown medicinal herbs native to the area. Indigenous peoples have been working to restore these lands for over 10 years, and the parcel of land holds significance as ancestral grounds.
The dispute between the Indigenous coalition and Metrolinx began earlier this year in January, when in a public meeting with Metrolinx, Metrolinx’s own engineers stated it was not only possible to “bury the line” (tracks to be under Mount Dennis and the Humber River), but also the “best option for a livable community”. Metrolinx later told ENAGB and concerned locals that due to the floodplain, the underground track would be too difficult to construct, though their engineers had previously completed the tunnel to Billy Bishop airport, which passes through 35 metres under Lake Ontario and 185 metres of shale bedrock.
The elevated track is at the edge of ENAGB’s parcel of land, and would jeopardize the Indigenous youth’s efforts to connect and care for the land, and live alongside their relatives, the plants and animals. Losing this lodge would be a loss of a space for Indigenous youth to embody and live their Indigenous culture. This land is important to defend as one small piece of reconciliation Indigenous peoples are owed by Canada.
If Metrolinx builds this elevated track, this will also mean the further fragmentation of greenspace that will prevent wildlife from traveling north and south along the Humber River, which is contrary to Canada’s commitments to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Endangered species in these urban forests include the little brown myotis bat, monarch butterflies, barn swallows, chimney swifts, and peregrine falcons.
After being told by Metrolinx that the track would be elevated, ENAGB and the Turtle Island Fire Carers erected a teepee at Pearen Park, where they have been protesting ever since, by tending a sacred fire that burns 24/7 inside their teepee.
At this point their funding for the protest has dried up, and they rely entirely on donations.
Food and supplies for the Fire Keepers, wood for fire, and 100% cotton cloth in their four sacred colours (yellow, red, black, and white) are being welcomed from the public gifts. Donations can be made at https://enagb-iya.ca/donation/
For media interviews please contact: Media@sierraclub.ca
“It’s important for us to fight for our land. We were here first as Indigenous People and I feel it’s our responsibility to protect what little land we have left. Metrolinx is going to destroy thousands of trees and interrupt a lot of wildlife we have here and we need to take a stand and do our due diligence, as the next generation of Indigenous youth, to protect that and teach coming generations of that importance.“ – Alaina Ominika, Youth Program Manager, ENAGB.
“The Mount Dennis community is rallying around and standing strong with our Indigenous partners – we are unified and are determined to protect our mature urban forest and parks,” says Neiland Brissenden, spokesperson for local advocacy group Stop the Trains in Our Parks, which is part of the Indigenous-led coalition. “Our community deserves world-class transit and our greenspace.” – Neiland Brissenden, Stop the Trains in Our Parks (STOP).
“Sierra Club Canada stands in solidarity with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples to fight to protect the environment, and defend their use of ancestral lands that are pivotal to their culture and way of life. This is a call for Metrolinx to choose to respect Indigenous rights, and protect the sensitive green spaces required to rebuild biodiversity that is crucial to our survival. Now is the time to choose actions as individuals, as businesses, and as nations, that are aligned with the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals for 2030. Each one of us has a stake, and the power, to create a healthier world for future generations.” – Jessica Murray, Ontario Director, Sierra Club Canada.
An important note on referencing the Sierra Club Canada Foundation: There are three distinct Sierra Clubs: Sierra Club (in the United States), Sierra Club BC (in British Columbia), and Sierra Club Canada Foundation (operating nationally in Canada). While we often work together, these organizations are all separate legal entities. To be accurate, you should refer to our organization in articles or other coverage using the title “Sierra Club Canada” or “Sierra Club Canada Foundation.” Our organization, the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, also contains five chapters: Sierra Club Ontario, Sierra Club Québec, Sierra Club Atlantic Canada, Sierra Club Prairie, and Sierra Youth (which is nationwide).