TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ - Anishinabek Nation leader John Beaucage,
currently campaigning for the office of National Chief, has applauded a new
legislative process undertaken by the Province of Ontario to amend its
century-old Mining Act.
"The Mining Amendment Act will be the first piece of provincial
legislation that expressly recognizes and affirms First Nations Treaty and
aboriginal rights," said the Grand Council Chief, on behalf of 42 member
Anishinabek First Nations. "Ontario's new collaborative approach to developing
legislation and public policy is certainly innovative. It is respectful to the
recognition of our rights and indicative of the province's commitment to
working with First Nations on a government-to-government basis."
Introduced today, the Act includes provisions for First Nations to
protect from mining development lands that have culturally-significant sites.
Beaucage said the new legislation means the Crown, industry and all
stakeholders must recognize and affirm the Treaties.
"Ministers Gravelle and Duguid deserve credit for their vision and have
shown real leadership at the Cabinet table," said Beaucage. "We hope this
process is reflected in the development of all future laws that may have an
impact on First Nations."
New provisions for digital map staking and notification of First Nation
communities also protect sensitive areas within traditional territories from
One significant amendment to the existing Mining Act requires developers
to create work plans for provincial approval outlining how they will be
engaging with and consulting with First Nations.
"Consultation and accommodation of First Nations interests on our
traditional territories is absolutely necessary," said Beaucage. "However, we
have to move beyond basic consultation towards engagement and signing of
impact benefit agreements between mining companies and First Nations.
Agreements are the most practical means of achieving consent, collaboration
and obtaining support for any given project."
An Anishinabek Nation consultation process produced 31 specific
recommendations of over 100 submitted by First Nations through a technical
table led by Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
"Certainly, the new Mining Amendment Act does not fully address all the
concerns of our First Nations -- such as our opposition to uranium
development, stronger involvement in decision-making processes, and stronger
protections on water and the environment," said Beaucage. "However, we will
take these small victories and continue to advocate for our communities and
actively encourage mining development and exploration and dialogue in our
Grand Council Chief Beaucage is encouraging the Ministry of Northern
Development and Mines to include grass-roots First Nations and their mining
technical experts in the development of corresponding regulations and
throughout the implementation of the new Mining Amendment Act.
The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its
political advocate and secretariat in 1949. The Union of Ontario Indians is
the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to
the Confederacy of Three Fires that have existed long before European contact.
For further information:
For further information: Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand
Council Chief, (705) 498-5250, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Marci Becking,
Communications Officer, Union of Ontario Indians, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (ext.
2290), Cell: (705) 494-0735 ,E-mail: email@example.com