OXFORD HOUSE, MB, Aug. 16, 2018 /CNW/ - Bunibonibee Cree Nation ("BCN") objects to Alto Ventures Ltd.'s ("Alto") attempts to start an exploration program in BCN traditional territory at Oxford Lake Manitoba, near the reserve and amidst burial sites and on other sacred and culturally important lands and waters. BCN is resolved to stop this exploration program if Alto continues proceeding as it has, by refusing to enter into an agreement to accommodate BCN's concerns (called an "exploration agreement").
In December of 2017, Alto announced that it "would not proceed indefinitely with an exploration program at Oxford Lake." Despite that announcement, Alto has sought work permits from the Government of Manitoba to engage in this activity including 3,000 meters of diamond drilling in the area. Manitoba says it will issue the permit late August or early September.
From December until now, Alto has refused to engage with BCN about an exploration agreement. While the Government of Manitoba has promised BCN that certain concerns it has about archaeological sites may be addressed through a condition in the permit requiring Alto to undertake a heritage resources assessment, none of BCN's other substantial concerns are being addressed by either of Manitoba or Alto. If this exploration is allowed to proceed as is, BCN will again be left worse off, with its rights and values and voice being eroded.
Manitoba Grand Chief Arlen Dumas fully supports BCN's position: "Early and effective consultation and accommodation through an exploration agreement is a critical step to ensuring a successful relationship between First Nations and mineral exploration companies. Exploration agreements are common practice in many jurisdictions in Canada – because they provide for the First Nation's consent, on the basis that the several protection, mitigation and offset benefit measures provided in them are sufficient to address concerns about the impacts of exploration on rights, values and lands. First Nations will not stand for less, and being treated as 'less than' any more."
If Alto fails to conclude an agreement with BCN, continued efforts by Alto to persist in exploration anyway, will significantly impair the relationship and the ultimate chances of concluding an impact benefit agreement in relation to any resource discovered in the exploration area. The conduct of Alto management, which is inconsistent with best practice in First Nations consultation and accommodation, presents a risk to investors. BCN is calling on the current and prospective shareholders of Alto to encourage its management to conclude an exploration agreement with BCN before persisting any further to undertake exploration activities in BCN territory.
SOURCE Bunibonibee Cree Nation
For further information: contact Kate Kempton from OKT Law (BCN legal counsel) at 416-571-6775