OTTAWA, Nov. 8, 2011 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today expressed concern about plans to move
forward on projects in British Columbia and Northern Ontario without
respecting the rights and interests of First Nations.
"As we near the first anniversary of Canada's endorsement of the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we must
achieve respectful, practical approaches that will lead to
mutually-beneficial economic development," said AFN National Chief
Shawn Atleo. "As recently pointed out by the UN Special Rapporteur
James Anaya, resource development projects are one of the most
significant sources of abuse of Indigenous rights worldwide and run
counter to the self determination of indigenous peoples. We must be
committed to turning this around - it is an imperative of our rights
and necessary to unleash Canada's full economic potential."
National Chief Atleo's comments come after two recent decisions by CEAA.
Yesterday CEAA announced that the controversial proposed "New Prosperity
Mine" would undergo an environmental review despite national opposition
from First Nations. The project had previously been rejected on
environmental grounds from then Minister Jim Prentice.
"It is hard to understand why CEAA did not reject the so-called New
Prosperity Mine proposal which is essentially one of the options in the
first proposal that CEAA has already rejected, said AFN BC Regional
Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould. "The credibility of the Canadian
Environmental Assessment process is at stake. We need to move forward
to create a strong but sustainable economic future for everyone in
British Columbia rather than create barriers and waste time and energy
on unnecessary processes. There can only be one legitimate outcome of
the second review and that is rejection."
CEAA's approval of an environmental assessment for the proposed "New
Prosperity Mine" comes shortly after a controversial decision to allow
a limited review of the Cliffs Chromite Project in Ontario.
In late October, CEAA turned down requests by Matawa First Nations
Chiefs for a Joint Review Panel Environmental Assessment of a proposed
chromite mine in the Ring of Fire, an area in the James Bay lowlands of
Ontario. Matawa Chiefs were in Ottawa yesterday announcing their launch
of a judicial review which they hope will overturn this decision.
National Chief Atleo and Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse stood
with Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy and Matawa Chiefs
Sonny Gagnon from Aroland First Nation, Chief Peter Moonias of
Neskantaga First Nation and Chief Roger Oshkineegish of Nibinimik First
Nation as they continued calls for their full engagement.
"First Nations are not opposed to development, but not at any cost,"
said National Chief Atleo. "We want to see environmentally sound
community development that respects our rights, reflects our
relationship to our land, our resources, and our traditions. The
international community recognizes that the path towards economic
progress for everyone rests on the principles of respect, transparency,
and consent. If Canada wants to promote new mining ventures, it must
allow the environmental review process to do what it was designed to do
by listening to the people who will inherit the costs and benefits of
projects in their communities."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN and National Chief Atleo
on Twitter @AFN_Updates, @AFN_Comms and @NCAtleo.
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