A student organization says Trent University has shown little regard for the environment with its proposed Innovation and Research Park. this comes after numerous trees were cut for the project.
Greg Davis has more:
Victoria Belbin, Sustainable Trent: You could feel the loss…you could feel the heart break with mother earth.
Last November, a swath of cedar trees were cut down to widen pioneer road. It’s part of the renovation needed to welcome Trent’s Innovation and Research Park and a new city ball diamond and arena.
Sustainable Trent claims the university failed to consult students about the tree cutting. And what’s more, the organization says the university should have also consulted Indigenous organizations since the trees sat on the traditional territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabe
Belbin: It is absolute crucial that they consult and that they get the consent to build and develop this land because this is not Trent’s land.
Cedar is considered a sacred medicine by indigenous people.
Skye John, Indigenous Studies student: I love to give thanks to the earth because without it we would not be here. so to take down…to bite the hand that feeds you was a slap in a face as an indigenous student. I feel betrayed.
Trent university held two focus meetings after the trees were removed. Officials admit the lines of communication with First Nations need to improve.
Neil Emery, Trent University vice-president of research and innovation: I have to say we could have done a better job of consulting them. But as the innovation part goes forward we are partaking on a new type of study where are looking locally for advice and both within Trent and our four First Nation communities.
Trent also refutes the students’ claims that the trees were removed before an environmental impact assessment.
Emery: The city is not required for that project to do an environmental assessment although they have environmental studies for the area
Concerned students also argue the innovation park will disrupt 85 acres of natural landscape and wetlands.
Trent says the students’ concerns are being heard.
Emery: I have to say we are listening and I told them we are learning as we go and going to endeavour to a better job as we develop the research park.”
Students say they are trying to ensure the university remains focused on the environment while working with indigenous traditions.
Belbin: They are selling themselves out for economic development.
John: If things like this are going to happen, there has to be meetings with whoever is in charge and the indigenous people at Trent because that’s the way things are and that’s the way the Treaty was made and that’s the way we have to honour it.”