I should never have come here five years ago Tyendinaga mom

first_imgBy Delaney Windigo and Kenneth JacksonAPTN National NewsTyendinaga – The Tyendinaga Mohawk police have been asked to investigate whether the band council has been criminally negligent in its handling of the on-going water crisis where children have recently been diagnosed with cancer and developed body sores.The tribal police received the complaint from concerned community members. The Ontario Provincial Police were then called in to assist.Chief R. Donald Maracle confirmed he has been contacted by the OPP but said he didn’t think he was under investigation.Tension has been building on the First Nation about 20 Km east of Belleville, Ont. as residents have been demanding to know why three children have been diagnosed with leukemia.Dawn Sero’s daughter Paula died in September after being diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year. Another young child is undergoing treatments for brain cancer and several others have unexplained body sores.At a community meeting Wednesday residents learned the type of leukemia the children have isn’t caused by drinking water.Dr. Richard Schabas, medical officer of health for Hastings and Prince Edward County, said acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) hasn’t been known to be caused by environmental conditions. However, science doesn’t know much about what causes ALL and added that while it’s rare to have so many confirmed cases in such a small area it has happened before.“What’s going on in this community with this cluster of cases of ALL, well I don’t know. I don’t think anybody can claim to know but I can tell you that far and away the most likely explanation is this is just random chance,” he said.Regardless of what experts have to say, some parents believe there is a link between the environment, the body sores and case of leukemia.One of those parents is Sero. She and her family moved to Tyendinaga five years ago from the Toronto area.“I should never have come here five years ago,” she said. She added she is not convinced with what Schabas had to say. She is demanding more water testing be done.“When I asked (Schabas) what causes ALL and aplastic anemia he said it wasn’t benzene but there’s supposedly other causes, he really had no answers for anybody that were asking questions,” she said. “What I learned tonight (Wednesday) is that we are all at risk.”In fact, Schabas was up front about the lack of knowledge around ALL but said all medical science suggests it’s not caused by the water.The landfill on Tyendinaga was closed in 2004 and permanently capped in 2007. But it’s still a concern to parents. The site sits 600 metres from the Quinte Mohawk School and is on what is called fractured limestone bedrock without any sort of protection to stop its contaminants from leaching into the surrounding environment including sources of water.Water problems in Tyendinega date back to 1970s and has been an on-going problem with over half the wells on the reserve having undrinkable water.Residents who are on a well system have been on a boil advisory for years. The band council say they have lobbied Aboriginal Affairs for money to build a water treatment plant but it’s not clear whether any money is on the way. Maracle says the band wants $40 million to build a water and wastewater treatment plant.Tammy Green is another concerned parent.She and her family can’t drink their water and can’t bathe in it either. They go to her cousin’s home to shower.Green’s daughter started developing body sores about couple months ago.“There’s still sores on her body, they’re not as bad as they were when they first started out because they would be a pin point and then they would get to as big as a loonie, if not bigger,” said Green.Green said she’s taken her daughter to multiple doctors but no one has an answer.“I’m taking all precautions, where my kids are concerned. I do have three of them and I honestly don’t know what the problem is but I’m not drinking our water, not having anything to do with our water,” she said.Green’s daughter was friends with Sero’s daughter Paula and also with another young girl fighting leukemia at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.All three girls were in the same class at Quinte Mohawk School. The band council say water tests conducted at the school show the water is safe to drink.last_img