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UOI Offices, Nipissing First Nation, March 6, 2012 – As representatives of the province and various mining companies participate in the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference this week in Toronto, First Nations continue to wait for dialogue regarding their treaty and traditional territories.
The Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee called on the Ontario government to make the first move. “The Ontario government is aware that First Nation territories expand beyond reserves,” says Madahbee. “In fact, most of Ontario is subject to First Nation treaty and traditional lands.”"I’ve spoken with a few Chiefs about mining, forestry and other sectors, and what most First Nations are asking for is mutual respect,” Madahbee continued. “There’s nothing stopping a CEO of any company, or the Minister of any ministry for that matter, from picking up the phone and calling a First Nation to do business in an open process, that’s what consultation is about, it’s about inclusion from the beginning stages.”
In January 2012, the Wahgoshig First Nation was granted an injunction over mining activities by the Solid Gold mining company. The Ontario Superior Court noted that Solid Gold had begun drilling and exploration but failed to consult the First Nation. From the court ruling: “The duty to consult and accommodate, which is at the heart of this injunction motion resides in the honour of the Crown. While the Crown may delegate operational aspects of the duty to third parties, such as Solid Gold, the Crown bears the ultimate legal responsibility to see that the duty is fulfilled.”
“I think the most difficult things only become difficult from a lack of proper dialogue. Misconceptions happen all the time and it usually happens when one or more parties fail to engage or a miscommunication somewhere down the line.” Madahbee concluded, “First Nations will protect their traditional lands but we’re optimistic that the Ontario government will uphold its fiduciary and treaty responsibilities to consult and accommodate.”
The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 39 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.
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