What's missing in Mining Act changes? The Right to Say NO

             Proposed amendments do little to prevent conflicts

    TORONTO, May 25 /CNW/ - In response to proposed changes to Ontario's
Mining Act, Mushkegowuk Council, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug and Ardoch
Algonquin First Nation call on the province to respect the right of First
Nations to say NO to all aspects of mining from prospecting to exploration to
full mine development in their traditional territories. The First Nations
clarify that the Ontario government must respect and adhere to Constitutional
duty of consultation and accommodation and the internationally recognized
right of free prior and informed consent. This has not been addressed by the
proposed changes Minister Gravelle introduced on April 30, 2009.
    "The Supreme Court of Canada has said that consultation and accommodation
have to be meaningful. How can they be meaningful if we don't have the right
to say NO to mining that will impact our lives and culture?" says Grand Chief
Stan Louttit of the Mushkegowuk Council. The Mushkegowuk Council is comprised
of seven communities including Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Kashechewan, Moose
Cree, New Post, Chapleau Cree and Missanabie Cree. Their homelands cover a
vast area in and around James Bay of the Boreal Forest.
    Changes to the Act were prompted in part by ongoing conflicts between
mineral exploration companies and First Nations that resulted in the
incarceration of Bob Lovelace and KI Six last year. "These amendments will not
resolve the KI Platinex conflict. Further conflict is all but inevitable,"
says Sam McKay, Councillor and Spokesperson for Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug
(KI). Mr. McKay was one of KI Six who spent 68 days in jail.
    "The proposed changes to the Mining Act are smoke and mirrors," says
Mireille Lapointe, Co-Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. "They are
meant to placate and silence dissent. Consultation without the right to say NO
is meaningless and a cynical exercise," adds Chief Lapointe. Bob Lovelace of
the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation spent 101 days in jail for saying NO to
uranium exploration.
    The call for respect for free, prior and informed consent is widely
supported including by seven public interest groups: CPAWS Wildlands League,
Ecojustice Canada, Mining Watch Canada, Ontario Nature, Amnesty International
Canada, Christian Peacemaker Teams Canada and Community Coalition Against
Mining Uranium.

For further information:

For further information: Grand Chief Stan Louttit, Mushkegowuk Council,
mobile (705) 288-0157; Co-Chief Mireille LaPointe, Ardoch Algonquin First
Nation, (613) 273-3530; Councillor Sam McKay, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug,
(807) 537-2263 and mobile (807) 629-7266; Anna Baggio, CPAWS Wildlands League,
mobile (416) 453-3285; Ramsey Hart, Mining Watch Canada, (613) 614-9937

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