Home News Dump trucks still pouring in 

Dump trucks still pouring in 

Courtesy Shelby Karonianoron McComber

Truck inspections seen near Oka Park this Monday were routine, The Eastern Door has learned, and not enacted to crack down on a large influx of dump trucks bringing landfill, which have drawn the ire of community members for months on end. 

The thaw period in Quebec began March 4, ushering in a season of load restrictions for heavy vehicles. Monday’s operation was part of this effort, with two vehicles cited after mechanical checks; 10 trucks were checked in all, according to Jonathan Beauvais, spokesperson for the Contrôle routier Québec (CRQ). 

“It’s to protect the road network, and it’s part of the road control mandate to carry out verifications,” said Beauvais, who said such inspections are happening across the province right now. 

Given the decades-long history of Kanesatake being used as a cheap dumping site by outside entities, Kanehsata’kehró:non have continuously expressed fears that the trucks could be bringing in contaminated soils. Yet this was not part of the CRQ check. 

“As for anything to do with the environment, that’s really not part of our mandate, so that’s not part of the verifications we conduct,” Beauvais said. 

The CRQ sometimes partners with Quebec’s environment ministry, but the department did not participate in Monday’s checks, according to ministry spokesperson Frédéric Fournier, who has repeatedly suggested the ministry is on top of the issue. 

“The ministry is aware of potentially contaminated soil deposits,” he said, noting the department has carried out inspections and testing over the years, invoking sanctions against Top Layer Distribution last summer. 

Yet trucks are still coming in by the dozens – as many as 100 or more per day – bringing landfill to a number of sites, mostly along the Lake of Two Mountains. 

“It shakes my house and my store, dust everywhere,” said Shelby Karonianoron McComber, who said trucks were using her small road to avoid a section of the highway. “I have a brand-new vehicle that’s always covered in mud because the roads are shit.” She said the trucks could be heard as early as 4 a.m. 

McComber spoke with The Eastern Door in November but recently confirmed little has changed since then. 

“The only thing that’s changed is the location they’re going to now, but it’s still non-stop all day long,” she said. 

Many of the trucks heading to Kanesatake are owned by Nexus Construction, including a couple weeks ago when community members turned up to prevent trucks from entering Ahsennénhson to deliver to Gary Gabriel. One truck that appeared to have a Nexus logo carried Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) chief Brant Etienne a considerable distance in a terrifying incident when he protested. 

Nexus has been identified by staff at the MCK environment department on the department’s Facebook page as a company participating in dumping on Simon Road. The business did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Eastern Door – and neither did the MCK environment department. 

A moratorium on dumping has been in place in Kanesatake since 2016, but it has often been ignored. 

“The river ecosystem there, the bay and everything is already irreparably changed,” said Etienne recently. “It’ll never be the way it was. The fish, the animals, the plants our ancestors depended on, lived on, and raised our children on are gone because of these people.” 

He said the community bears some blame but that Kanehsata’kehró:non are not the ones producing the waste. Plenty of fault lies with municipalities, the corporate structures, and the consumerist mentalities that makes it profitable to degrade the environment and Indigenous territory, he said. 

“We’re the ones where the shit flows downhill and it ends up in Kanesatake, and it’s washed away,” he said. 

While he initially believed fewer trucks were entering the territory over the past couple weeks following a boost in media coverage, he said he has discovered this is not the case. 

“They are just using a different route, coming in from the west along the 344 and in quantities similar to before. Community members have counted on average 75 trucks a day dumping,” he said. 

Normand Theoret said he is receiving soils from various sites for free from Nexus to fill in a property at the bay next to his home. Nexus has also coordinated the landscaping. He said Nexus told him his three acres would take as many as 3,000 loads of landfill to complete. 

“It’s my own land I bought from my cousin. It’s swamp land. It’s non-buildable. I’m filling it in and that’s about it,” said Theoret. 

Depending on the weather, he said some days he has received as many as 300 trucks full of landfill. 

“The band office is not giving us the right to fill, but these lands are sitting there where we can put housing for the youth. I’ve got three kids, they’re Native. Right now, there’s no land nowhere.” 

Theoret said he has provided 2,000 pages of documents to the MCK environment department. “They wanted paper, I said no problem,” he said. He said he receives reports every day about the soil he is receiving. 

He doesn’t fear contamination in the soil, he said, because of a mandatory new soil traceability program operated by the government of Quebec known as Traces Quebec, which is intended to test and trace soils. He feels his association with Nexus has led him to be unfairly targeted by those in the community who are worried the landfill could be contaminated. 

“I got to a point where I don’t even care. I go to the store and the first thing they say, I’ll see somebody and they’ll say, ‘Is it contaminated what they’re bringing to the river?’ I just don’t even bother f*cking looking at the person,” he said. 

“They’re on that Facebook all day long. They’re complaining about the neighbour’s dog shitting on their lawn. They’ve got nothing to do. They’ve got no lives over here,” he said. 

Karel Ménard, general director of Front commun québecois pour une gestion écologique des déchets (FCQGED), said the introduction of Traces Quebec is a big step in the right direction for the management of contaminated soil. 

“For years we have witnessed illegal dumping of contaminated soil in the countryside. The law was very permissive,” he said. 

While the Traces Quebec system was originally envisioned as a voluntary initiative by the industry, it has been adopted as a compulsory, government-operated system, he said, which he expects would make it more effective – but not necessarily foolproof. 

“If the soil is good, not contaminated, I think it’s a win-win situation, but if the soil is contaminated, of course it’s a good deal for the construction company.” 

He emphasized the importance of keeping the river system clean, not only because of its ecology but also because it is the source of drinking water for many communities. 

marcus@easterndoor.com 

Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative reporter 

This article was originally published in print on March 15 in issue 33.11 of The Eastern Door.

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Marcus is a journalist and managing editor of The Eastern Door, where he has been reporting since 2021 on issues that matter to Kahnawake and Kanesatake. He was previously editor-in-chief of The Link and a contributing editor at Our Canada magazine.

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Marcus is a journalist and managing editor of The Eastern Door, where he has been reporting since 2021 on issues that matter to Kahnawake and Kanesatake. He was previously editor-in-chief of The Link and a contributing editor at Our Canada magazine.