TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2011 /CNW/ - Today Ontario Regional Chief Angus
Toulouse expressed full support for both the Wahgoshig First Nation and
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug in their efforts to protect their
traditional lands from aggressive mining exploration.
The Wahgoshig First Nation discovered in the spring of 2011 that Solid
Gold Resources was operating on their traditional territory in an area
known to be a sacred burial site. The mining exploration company
refused to meet with the First Nation until early November and only at
the behest of the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and
Forestry. Solid Gold Resources management have made it clear that they
have no intention of working with the First Nation to address their
concerns or consider any environmental or impact studies. As a result,
Wahgoshig First Nation has been forced to the courts to seek an
injunction to halt the activities of Solid Gold Resources. The
Wahgoshig First Nation will have a court hearing in Toronto, Ontario on
December 1, 2011 with regard to this matter.
The Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninwug (KI) First Nation are also determined to
stop mining exploration on their lands by God`s Lake Resources. The
First Nation reports that the provincial government has allowed the
mining exploration company to stake claims on top of a sacred burial
site within the territory of KI. The Ontario government and KI were
engaged in a joint panel process focused on the mining concerns of the
First Nation up until November 14, 2011. This joint panel was committed
to by Premier McGuinty following the KI-Platinex dispute. The talks
between the two broke down due to the province`s failure to assure KI
that they would halt exploration by God`s Lake Resources until the
joint panel could deal with mining exploration issues of concern to KI.
"It is appalling that some companies, with the full knowledge and
approval of the provincial government, continue to behave in this
disrespectful and unacceptable manner," stated Chief Toulouse. Chief
Toulouse indicated the he finds it unbelievable that some in the mining
industry continue to trample on the rights of First Nations given the
tragic consequences of the Ipperwash conflict in 1995 and the more
recent high profile Platinex Inc. and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug
conflict a few years ago. "I have no other choice but to conclude that
these companies are aware of what can happen but do not care. The fact
of the matter is that First Nations know their rights and they are
going to resist and they will not give up," said Chief Toulouse.
First Nations have treaty and aboriginal rights which were recognized
and affirmed in the Constitution of Canada, 1982 and there have been
numerous court decisions reinforcing the rights of First Nations to be
consulted appropriately with respect to development on their
traditional lands. Further the United Nations Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples recognized that Indigenous Peoples have the right
of free, prior and informed consent with respect to the approval of any
project that may affect their lands or territories.
"The First Nations in Ontario stand with the people of Wahgoshig First
Nation and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug in defending their rights. As
First Nations people the lands and the waters are central to our
survival as nations and we accept our responsibility to take care of
them for our future generations --- in fact nothing is more important,"
stated Chief Toulouse. He indicated his growing concern that the
provincial government has taken a hands off approach while these
situations escalate. "We need to think about what we have learned from
past conflicts and begin to do things differently. As the Commissioner
of the Ipperwash Inquiry identified we need to address those factors
that lead to conflict before the conflict, not in the midst of it.
Government has spent far too much time responding to conflict rather
than creating the right conditions to avoid conflict altogether. I
believe that with leadership and political will these issues can be
resolved in a just and expedient manner," stated Regional Chief Angus
Wahgoshig First Nation March:
Chief David Babin of the Wahgoshig First Nation will be leading a march
from Queen`s Park (Ontario Legislature), located just north of the
College St. and Queen`s Park Crescent intersection in downtown Toronto,
to the Ontario courthouse, located approximately 10 minutes south of
the legislature on University Avenue, on December 1, 2011, gathering at Queen's Park at 8:30 a.m.
All First Nations leaders, citizens and supporters that are able to
participate are encouraged to do so. For more information please
contact Andre Morriseau 416-580-9380 email@example.com or Nathan Wright 416-523-5530 firstname.lastname@example.org of the Chiefs of Ontario.
The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) is a coordinating body for the 133 First
Nations located within the boundaries of the Province of Ontario.
SOURCE Chiefs of Ontario
For further information:
Andre Morriseau Communications Officer