First Nations encourage municipalities, industry to join demand for more time for mining consultation

    THUNDER BAY, ON, Sept. 26 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief
Stan Beardy, together with the Oski-Machiitawin Chiefs Steering Committee, is
encouraging municipalities, industry and other organizations to join its
demand that the Government of Ontario provide more time for consultation
before any revisions are made to the Mining Act.
    "Across Ontario, First Nation and non-First Nation people have said very
clearly that the timeframe set out by the government simply does not provide
sufficient time to gather feedback from communities and does not provide the
opportunity for meaningful input into this process," said Nishnawbe Aski
Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy. "The October 15, 2008 deadline for
submissions imposed by the Government of Ontario is unacceptable to NAN First
Nations as it does not meet the culturally acceptable way for consultation in
our communities."
    The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines held only five public and
stakeholder consultations to gather input into the Mining Act revision
process, none of which were held in First Nation communities.
    Mining is one of the most significant activities affecting NAN First
Nations and has a direct impact on constitutionally-protected Aboriginal
treaty rights, but there has not been enough time to develop a culturally
appropriate method for consultation, noted Oski-Machiitawin Chiefs Steering
Committee member Chief Arlene Slipperjack, adding that Supreme Court rulings
have stated that First Nations must be consulted about activities that occur
on their traditional homelands.
    "How can the government draft legislation without an acceptable level of
input from the people affected? Holding a few meetings in urban centres does
not constitute consultation, nor does it come anywhere near meeting the
government's duty to consult," said Chief Arlene Slipperjack, Whitewater First
Nation. "We are not opposed to changing the Mining Act. In fact, we
spearheaded the call for change at the Oski-Machiitawin discussions with the
government last year. But we need time to develop a culturally-appropriate
mechanism of consulting and gathering input from all NAN First Nations."

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities within James Bay Treaty 9 and Treaty
5 territory - an area covering two-thirds of the province of Ontario.
    NAN is working through Oski-Machiitawin (formerly "Northern Table") to
accelerate bilateral discussions with the Government of Ontario regarding
lands and resources.

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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