KI First Nation court ruling has serious implications for the human rights of First Nations

    THUNDER BAY, ON, March 24 /CNW/ - The sentencing of six members of
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KI) to six months in jail has
caused widespread indignation among the people of Matawa First Nations. The
Chiefs of Matawa First Nations called an urgent meeting today to discuss the
very serious implications of the Thunder Bay Superior Court decision and to
determine the future relationship between their communities and the Province
of Ontario.
    "As leaders, individuals and families, the people of Matawa First Nations
have been deeply offended and shocked by this week's ruling against KI," says
Matawa First Nations spokesperson, Chief Arthur Moore. "This decision has been
received as a clear message from the Government of Ontario that they have no
respect for the First Nations people of Ontario and that they give no
consideration to our lives or rights as citizens. It is a shameful time for
this country on the world stage and one that will have very serious
implications for future relations between government, industry and First
    Matawa First Nations are pro-development communities located in Northern
Ontario. They have been exploring partnerships with mining companies for
economic development opportunities in their traditional territories. Earlier
this month, Matawa First Nations were the only Aboriginal communities
represented at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)
    "Matawa First Nations have been proactive in building relationships with
mining companies wishing to undertake exploration in our traditional
territories thus far," continued Chief Moore. "However, we depend on working
relationships that are based on cooperation, respectful use of traditional
territories and meaningful consultation with our community members related to
lands and natural resources. Now that Ontario has undermined the requirement
for industry to engage in a process of consultation with our First Nations,
our relationships with the mining industry have been seriously jeopardized and
future relationships are doubtful to occur," he says.
    The First Nations foremost focus is, and has been, to secure a prosperous
future for their youth and the generations to come. They want pro-active
negotiations with the government to take place so that their youth are not
left scarred by current events and can see a future in the mineral employment
sector. Matawa First Nations' goal in this ordeal is to leave the First
Nations youth with zero negative social and economic impacts.
    Matawa First Nations are enormously fearful of the implications of this
week's court decision. Chief Moore says; "Our community members are rightfully
afraid for their lands and for the future of our families and communities. We
depend on the resources of our lands everyday for food, for water, to live. We
now have no protection against companies who wish to enter our territories to
exploit and ruin our lands for their own economic gain. We are just like any
other Ontario residents who would want to be protected or at the very least
consulted about the intentions of developers entering their own backyards."
    From the political perspective, the Matawa Chiefs have never supported,
participated in or received funding from the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Northern
Table (NAN - Ontario Bilateral Process). Matawa First Nations is however
seeking a Consultation and Accommodation Protocol with Ontario so that future
situations do not spiral out of control like that at K.I.

    Matawa First Nations are a Tribal Council of ten communities located in
the Nishnawbe Aski Nation; Aroland, Constance Lake, Eabametoong, Ginoogaming,
Hornepayne, Long Lake No. 58, Marten Falls, Neskantaga, Nibinamik, and
Webequie First Nations.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Stephanie Ash, Communications
Officer, Matawa First Nations, Tel: (807) 767-4443, Fax: (807) 767-4479,

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