“The government needs to recognize that First Nations have the legal and constitutional right to be consulted and now we demand that consent be part of the equation.”
from Intercontinental Cry
January 8, 2009
Mushkegowuk Council First Nations in northern Ontario recently passed a resolution that bans mining and exploration projects on their traditional lands.
Initially signed on November 14, the resolution declares that “[we] will accept no new mining activity on [our] homelands, including staking exploration, advanced exploration or new mine development until there is:
- Agreement to a new Mining Act that includes provisions for full consent of First Nations.
- First Nation approved Land Use Plans, developed with adequate funding, which sets out which lands will be available for mining and exploration.
- Agreement on environmental assessments and permitting requirements for all mining activities.”
The resolution further states that existing mining projects may only continue “where there is full consent of the First Nation involved, and where a legitimate impacts and benefits agreement exists.”
The resolution applies to Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Kasechewan, Moose Cree, Taykwa Tagamou and Chapleau Cree First Nations.
“The chiefs have made it clear. They are tired of their homelands being invaded,” said Grand Chief Stan Louttit of Mushkegowuk Council. “The government needs to recognize that First Nations have the legal and constitutional right to be consulted and now we demand that consent be part of the equation.”
In December, a group of environmental organizations: CPAWS Wildlands League, Ecojustice, ForestEthics, Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium, MiningWatch Canada, Ontario Nature and the David Suzuki Foundation issued their support for the Resolution.
“There is a strong, emerging consensus on what’s needed in a new Mining Act for Ontario from both First Nations, environmental groups, legal experts and industry actors”, stated Justin Duncan from Ecojustice, “in order to avoid any future conflicts from mining, we need strong amendments that reflect Mushkegowuk Council’s resolution.”
“The Mushkegowuk Council’s approach will help to resolve the conflicts between the existing, out-dated mining laws and Ontario’s obligations to respect aboriginal rights, and the need to have a more balanced approach to land use planning. We see these as fundamental elements for reforming how mining occurs across the entire province”, stated Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada.
“This is how land management should occur; as the outcome of land use planning processes,” added Rachel Plotkin, from the David Suzuki Foundation.