CUTLER, ON, May 1 /CNW/ - Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini of the
Serpent River and Lake Huron Treaty Commissioner is not totally convinced that
changes to the Ontario Mining Act released on April 30th 2009 are dealing with
all the important issues. "We are not seeing uranium exploration and
development issues being swept under the rug."
Serpent River First Nation is located on the northern shores of Lake
Huron and is located due south of Elliot Lake Ontario which was once coined as
the "Uranium Capital of the World." This says Chief Isadore Day is the
elephant in the middle of the room on all of this activity with respect to
changes to the Ontario Mining Act. "Uranium is such a critical discussion and
Ontario and Canada are showing no responsible collaboration during this
"We are home to a major lake basin that has been historically impacted by
radioactive mineral waste from spills and run-off from mine tailings between
the 1950's and the 1990's," says Chief Day, "It concerns me a great deal that
Ontario refuses to acknowledge that uranium mining needs special triggers
within the Act that explicitly define, determine, and direct appropriate
requirements as it pertains to uranium exploration."
It has been well over a year now since the First Nation has taken a
default position in saying "NO" to uranium mineral exploration or development.
The community seeks the appropriate process to substantiate its claims that
their territory has been far too impacted by uranium mining and that obvious
mortality has occurred as a result of uranium activities in their traditional
and treaty lands.
Currently, Serpent River First Nation is eagerly working out an
arrangement where the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has
put a meager amount of financial resources on the table to work out details of
a "pre-consultation" process on uranium mining developments and exploration.
We have been pressing hard on the ministry to have Ontario recognize the need
to assess current conditions of lands from historical mining activity,
specifically on lands impacted by uranium mining. Also, we want to know what
the capacities are for a First Nation to be "consultation-ready" and what
specific consultation process and provisions will be in place and agreed upon
by all parties to engage a fair process. Day says that the "Pre-Consultation"
mechanism speaks to a gap that exists in the current understanding of the duty
to consult that rests with the Crown.
The First Nation is further taking this position because it believes
there is disconnect between provincial regulations on uranium mineral
exploration and federally regulated jurisdictions on production and waste
management of uranium. This legislative gap between jurisdictions will mean
huge problems should industry wish to proceed in the future. "It is clear that
there is a need for harmonization triggers that ensure there is a responsible
and consistent thread of due diligence between Canada and Ontario", says Day,
"It is very discouraging to watch two governments work in a silo mentality on
such a major issue that has extreme environmental concerns attached."
Chief Isadore Day, also the Lake Huron Treaty Commissioner says "Minister
the window of opportunity is open for dealing with uranium in the Ontario
Mining Act." Chief Day also wants Ontario to know that consultation thresholds
will increase in months and years to come as Ontario and Canada are called to
deal with Treaty Implementation. "In this case, Ontario needs to know that
Treaty First Nations in Ontario are not a one-community-based consultation
horse and pony show. Uranium mineral exploration and developments will be
scrutinized and called to task by the collective of First Nations in the
Robinson Huron Treaty."
Chief Day calls on the McGuinty government to sit down with Treaty
representatives and deal directly with the lack of response and focus on
uranium in the changes to Ontario Mining Act.
For further information:
For further information: Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, (705)
844-2418; Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Union of Ontario Indians,
(705) 497-9127 ext 2290, firstname.lastname@example.org