Ignoring own research

Dorothy Friesen

Dear editor:
I am writing in response to the op-ed piece entitled, “Town clears up facts on Point dispute” (Fort Frances Times, Aug. 22).
I would like to think that before the Town of Fort Frances decided to spend precious taxpayer dollars on a lengthy, ultimately unwinnable dispute, they would investigate the “facts,” at the very least those facts in their possession.
Their response leads me to believe they did not read the Treftlin Report, commissioned by the Town of Fort Frances itself, which clearly concluded that the land of Point Park was reserve land.
For some reason, the town is choosing to ignore its own historical research on this main issue.
They also must not have visited the Fort Frances Museum’s 2009 display on the Point Park, which included a picture with the caption: “Excavation of the Mounds.”
The site immediately adjacent to where the lookout tower used to stand once was a burial mound. Created some 400 years ago, the site was excavated in 1959 by the Royal Ontario Museum.
Since the damming of the falls on the river, the water on Rainy Lake and the upper Rainy River had been elevated to such an extent that the erosion of the riverbank was causing the burial mound to be washed away.
The excavation revealed artifacts related to the Old Copper Culture, the Assiniboine, and the Ojibway. Fur trade artifacts, including beads and metal objects, also were unearthed.” (The excavation was led by Walter Kenyon, then assistant curator at the ROM in Toronto).
But even more important than incorrect facts is the town’s dubious assumption that if they acknowledge the Point land belongs to the First Nations that the park would not be accessible to the public.
Nothing like that has even been stated. In fact, in February, 2009, the four First Nations who hold the lease sent a cordial letter, offering to extend the lease while negotiations continue, but said that the historical $35 per annum was no longer acceptable.
By refusing to acknowledge what their own Treftlin Report stated, and ignoring historical data found in its own museum, the town is, in effect, paying $250,000 a year. That is a steep rise in rent, indeed!
Even if the town does not want to join the forward-looking movement across Canada towards economic and social partnerships based on mutual respect, I would think that their fiduciary responsibility towards taxpayers alone would persuade them to negotiate rather than throw away what will be, in the long run, millions of taxpayers’ dollars.
Dorothy Friesen,
Fort Frances, Ont.