Modernizing Ontario's Mining Act



    
    Ontario has ignored input from First Nation consultation process: a
    Matawa First Nations response to the proposed legislation to modernize
    Ontario's Mining Act.
    

    THUNDER BAY, ON, April 30 /CNW/ - In response to the proposed legislation
to modernize Ontario's Mining Act, as introduced by the Ministry of Northern
Development and Mines today, Matawa First Nations are gravely disappointed
that the proposed legislation has not sufficiently considered the input
provided by the Matawa people during Ontario's consultation process.
    Chief Sol Atlookan, spokesperson for Matawa First Nations, said:
    "If the Government is serious about improving Ontario's Mining Act to be
more respectful of Aboriginal people, they must take our input seriously and
specifically regarding the fundamental issues of Duty to Consult and advance
consent.
    During the consultation process, the Matawa First Nations people made it
overwhelming clear to Ontario that any act of exploration, staking or mining
activity on First Nation traditional lands without consent is intrusive of
First Nation's Treaty Rights and that consent from the community must be
sought prior to the start of any activity. Our people stated time and again
that they are willing to work together and build productive relationships with
the mining industry, provided that they are duly informed of potential
activities in advance of staking.
    Today's proposed legislation introduces no changes to enforce the Duty to
Consult at the community level, to ensure that industry has community consent
prior to engaging in staking activities or to set in place appropriate working
protocols and structures. Our major concerns specifically related to the
proposed approach from Ontario include:

    
    -   What is the purpose of notifying our communities immediately after a
        stake is claimed, what constitutes notification and who decides if
        the notification was sufficient?

    -   What is and who decides what constitutes 'significant' exploration
        activities within traditional lands?

    -   Where are the provisions for accommodating First Nations in terms of
        economic development and resource revenue sharing opportunities?

    -   Where is the requirement for industry to enter into Impact and
        Benefit Agreements if the project moves to the advanced stage?

    -   Approved community-based land use plans should be required all over
        Ontario in all parts of Ontario, not just the "Far North".
    

    Matawa First Nation community members respectfully requested that
consultation from industry should take place in the community and at the
community level and that consent from the community has to be the major
priority before any claim staking takes place. Once again, the voices of our
First Nations people have been shockingly ignored. We are also concerned that
the legislative review process will not allow for any meaningful changes to
the legislation. As far as our communities are concerned, we have wasted all
our time and resources with this process to be at business as usual after
today's announcement."

    
    QUICK FACTS

    -   Matawa First Nations are nine Northern Ontario First Nations located
        within Treaty 9 territory.

    -   The First Nations represented include: Aroland, Constance Lake,
        Eabametoong, Ginoogaming, Long Lake No.58, Marten Falls, Neskantaga,
        Nibinamik, and Webequie First Nations.

    -   There are a number of areas of interest to mineral developers in the
        region including one of the hottest exploration plays in the
        province, the McFaulds Lake area, in which over 40 companies are
        investigating significant nickel-copper, copper-zinc and chromium
        deposits.
    





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Stephanie Ash, Communications
Officer, Tel: (807) 767-4443 ext: 222, Email: stephanie@firedogpr.com

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MATAWA FIRST NATIONS

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