Strong support for Wahgoshig First Nation and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2011 /CNW/ - Today Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse expressed full support for both the Wahgoshig First Nation and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug in their efforts to protect their traditional lands from aggressive mining exploration.

The Wahgoshig First Nation discovered in the spring of 2011 that Solid Gold Resources was operating on their traditional territory in an area known to be a sacred burial site. The mining exploration company refused to meet with the First Nation until early November and only at the behest of the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. Solid Gold Resources management have made it clear that they have no intention of working with the First Nation to address their concerns or consider any environmental or impact studies. As a result, Wahgoshig First Nation has been forced to the courts to seek an injunction to halt the activities of Solid Gold Resources. The Wahgoshig First Nation will have a court hearing in Toronto, Ontario on December 1, 2011 with regard to this matter.

The Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninwug (KI) First Nation are also determined to stop mining exploration on their lands by God`s Lake Resources. The First Nation reports that the provincial government has allowed the mining exploration company to stake claims on top of a sacred burial site within the territory of KI. The Ontario government and KI were engaged in a joint panel process focused on the mining concerns of the First Nation up until November 14, 2011. This joint panel was committed to by Premier McGuinty following the KI-Platinex dispute. The talks between the two broke down due to the province`s failure to assure KI that they would halt exploration by God`s Lake Resources until the joint panel could deal with mining exploration issues of concern to KI.

"It is appalling that some companies, with the full knowledge and approval of the provincial government, continue to behave in this disrespectful and unacceptable manner," stated Chief Toulouse. Chief Toulouse indicated the he finds it unbelievable that some in the mining industry continue to trample on the rights of First Nations given the tragic consequences of the Ipperwash conflict in 1995 and the more recent high profile Platinex Inc. and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug conflict a few years ago. "I have no other choice but to conclude that these companies are aware of what can happen but do not care. The fact of the matter is that First Nations know their rights and they are going to resist and they will not give up," said Chief Toulouse.

First Nations have treaty and aboriginal rights which were recognized and affirmed in the Constitution of Canada, 1982 and there have been numerous court decisions reinforcing the rights of First Nations to be consulted appropriately with respect to development on their traditional lands. Further the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognized that Indigenous Peoples have the right of free, prior and informed consent with respect to the approval of any project that may affect their lands or territories.

"The First Nations in Ontario stand with the people of Wahgoshig First Nation and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug in defending their rights. As First Nations people the lands and the waters are central to our survival as nations and we accept our responsibility to take care of them for our future generations --- in fact nothing is more important," stated Chief Toulouse. He indicated his growing concern that the provincial government has taken a hands off approach while these situations escalate. "We need to think about what we have learned from past conflicts and begin to do things differently. As the Commissioner of the Ipperwash Inquiry identified we need to address those factors that lead to conflict before the conflict, not in the midst of it. Government has spent far too much time responding to conflict rather than creating the right conditions to avoid conflict altogether. I believe that with leadership and political will these issues can be resolved in a just and expedient manner," stated Regional Chief Angus Toulouse.

Wahgoshig First Nation March:

Chief David Babin of the Wahgoshig First Nation will be leading a march from Queen`s Park (Ontario Legislature), located just north of the College St. and Queen`s Park Crescent intersection in downtown Toronto, to the Ontario courthouse, located approximately 10 minutes south of the legislature on University Avenue, on December 1, 2011, gathering at Queen's Park at 8:30 a.m.

All First Nations leaders, citizens and supporters that are able to participate are encouraged to do so. For more information please contact Andre Morriseau 416-580-9380 or Nathan Wright 416-523-5530 of the Chiefs of Ontario.

The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) is a coordinating body for the 133 First Nations located within the boundaries of the Province of Ontario.

SOURCE Chiefs of Ontario

For further information:

Andre Morriseau Communications Officer
Ph: 416-580-9320

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Chiefs of Ontario

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