Modernizing Ontario’s Mining Act
Ontario has ignored input from First Nation consultation process: a Matawa First Nations response to the proposed legislation to modernize Ontario’s Mining Act.
THUNDER BAY, ON, April 30 – In response to the proposed legislation to modernize Ontario’s Mining Act, as introduced by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines today, Matawa First Nations are gravely disappointed that the proposed legislation has not sufficiently considered the input provided by the Matawa people during Ontario’s consultation process.Chief Sol Atlookan, spokesperson for Matawa First Nations, said:
“If the Government is serious about improving Ontario’s Mining Act to be more respectful of Aboriginal people, they must take our input seriously and specifically regarding the fundamental issues of Duty to Consult and advance consent.
During the consultation process, the Matawa First Nations people made it overwhelming clear to Ontario that any act of exploration, staking or mining activity on First Nation traditional lands without consent is intrusive of First Nation’s Treaty Rights and that consent from the community must be sought prior to the start of any activity. Our people stated time and again that they are willing to work together and build productive relationships with the mining industry, provided that they are duly informed of potential activities in advance of staking.
Today’s proposed legislation introduces no changes to enforce the Duty to Consult at the community level, to ensure that industry has community consent prior to engaging in staking activities or to set in place appropriate working protocols and structures. Our major concerns specifically related to the proposed approach from Ontario include:
– What is the purpose of notifying our communities immediately after a stake is claimed, what constitutes notification and who decides if the notification was sufficient?
– What is and who decides what constitutes ‘significant’ exploration activities within traditional lands?
– Where are the provisions for accommodating First Nations in terms of economic development and resource revenue sharing opportunities?
– Where is the requirement for industry to enter into Impact and Benefit Agreements if the project moves to the advanced stage?
– Approved community-based land use plans should be required all over Ontario in all parts of Ontario, not just the “Far North”.
Matawa First Nation community members respectfully requested that consultation from industry should take place in the community and at the community level and that consent from the community has to be the major priority before any claim staking takes place. Once again, the voices of our First Nations people have been shockingly ignored. We are also concerned that the legislative review process will not allow for any meaningful changes to the legislation. As far as our communities are concerned, we have wasted all our time and resources with this process to be at business as usual after today’s announcement.”
– Matawa First Nations are nine Northern Ontario First Nations located within Treaty 9 territory.
– The First Nations represented include: Aroland, Constance Lake, Eabametoong, Ginoogaming, Long Lake No.58, Marten Falls, Neskantaga, Nibinamik, and Webequie First Nations.
– There are a number of areas of interest to mineral developers in the region including one of the hottest exploration plays in the province, the McFaulds Lake area, in which over 40 companies are investigating significant nickel-copper, copper-zinc and chromium deposits.
For further information: Media Contact: Stephanie Ash, Communications Officer, Tel: (807) 767-4443 ext: 222, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org