NAN statement on Mining Act amendment bill



    THUNDER BAY, ON, April 30 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief
Stan Beardy acknowledges the attempts the Government of Ontario has made to
address First Nations concerns over mining in the Mining Act amendment bill
introduced by the Government of Ontario today, but is very concerned that the
legislation might not fully recognize the rights of First Nations to decide on
mining in NAN territory.
    "Our primary concern is that NAN First Nations must have free, prior and
informed consent before any activity can take place in their homelands," said
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy. "That's the standard
expressed in Article 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples, and that's the standard we expect Ontario to meet."

    
    Some key areas NAN First Nations want addressed in the amended legislation
include:

    1. Free Prior Informed Consent - No prospecting, staking, exploration or
       mine development will proceed without a written agreement in place, at
       the discretion of the First Nation.

    2. Participation in Regulations - All regulations under the new Act must
       be made in consultation with First Nations in a
       government-to-government relationship.

    3. Spirit and Intent of the Treaties (No. 9 and No. 5) - These agreements
       to live and work together will be recognized by any person exercising
       authority under the Act.

    4. Environmental Standards - The land, water, air and all living things
       must be protected - by the highest environmental standards with all
       exploration and development projects subject to the scrutiny of
       environmental assessments.

    5. Dispute Resolution - An independent dispute resolution mechanism
       involving NAN Nation communities that respects the values and laws of
       First Nations people.

    6. Funding and Capacity - A firm commitment to funding and technical
       resources to engage and respond to the project assessment process.

    7. Land Use Planning - An assurance that new legislation does not
       pre-empt the current process, that land use plans take precedence over
       mining rights, and clear indication that land use plans will be
       respected, and will not be trumped by mining tenure.

    8. Map Staking and Land Designations - A commitment that consultation and
       accommodation obligations will be met and that capacity and technology
       will be provided to First Nations who want to participate.
    

    NAN has requested a commitment from the Government of Ontario to a
process that will see more meaningful participation by First Nations during
the regulation and policy stages; detailed work that will be conducted
following the implementation of the Mining Act amendment bill.
    "The Government of Ontario did not allow enough time to conduct
meaningful consultation with NAN First Nations in the development of this
legislation," said Beardy. "We will continue to insist upon a mechanism
through which NAN First Nations will be consulted and will have meaningful
input into the decision-making process."
    "We have a sacred responsibility to future generations to secure the
protection of our homelands, which has been the basis of the survival of the
people of Nishnawbe Aski for generations," said Beardy. "It is critical that
any development of natural resources in the Far North must respect Aboriginal
and treaty rights while supporting an environmentally sustainable economic
future for our people."

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario
portions of Treaty 5 - an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.





For further information:

For further information: Michael Heintzman, Media Relations Officer,
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4906 or (807) 621-2790 mobile

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NISHNAWBE ASKI NATION

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