‘I see other people trying to tell us how to run our land’ [KI First Nation] – by Shawn Bell (Wawatay News – March 16, 2012)

This article came from Wawatay News: http://www.wawataynews.ca/

KI lands and resource Stephen Chapman was a main speaker during the KI rally in Toronto, outside the Prospectors and Developers Association conference. He spoke to Wawatay News about his community’s struggle to protect its traditional lands from mining and on watching First Nations involvement in the Prospectors conference.
 
Wawatay (wwt): First off, why was it important to bring this message to Toronto?
 
Stephen Chapman (SC): Toronto is a big place. We want to spread the word as much as possible, to Ontario, Canada and all over the world.
 
Wwt: The last time you went through this there was a lot of support down here in Toronto. Does that make it easier this time?
 
SC: Yes. We made connections before, and our connections are growing. They support us and they spread the word.
 
Wwt: Recently God’s Lake Resources has said they are preparing to go out on the land and restart their exploration work. Does that tie into why you brought this message to Toronto now?
 
SC: We are concerned that they are going out onto our land without our permission. With this conference here too, we came here to do this rally so that the world knows this is happening. And also to let our other First Nations know that we mean business when we do this.
 
Wwt: There is a lot going on inside the conference on Aboriginal consulation and other things like that. What do you see as needing to happen with consultation?
 
SC: What I see is other people trying to tell us how to run our land, our animals and our water. But we already know how to treat those things. We need respect.
 Wwt: What message do you have for other Northern Ontario people who could not be here for the rally or the mining conference?
 
SC: My message for other northern Ontario people, especially First Nations, is how can we not know that if one lake and one river is polluted, then it will go everywhere? Not just your home areas, but everywhere in northern Ontario. If one river is polluted on the south side, it will go to the north side. If you look at it that way, all the land and all the rivers and all the water will be polluted. And how can you say you are doing this for your future generations? If we don’t have good land, good water and good environment, how can we sustain ourselves? I just don’t understand that point of view. I know it is all about the love of money. But money wont always be there when everything else is gone.
 
And I would like to encourage the people, the First Nations, to talk to their chief and council to make sure they know what they are doing for them. Because what ever the chief and councilors are doing is what the people are going to be going through in the future years. And I know for a fact that lots of First Nations people still like to hunt, fish, trap, travel on the land, drink water out of the land, use the land and animals and everything. But when mining happens, everything will be gone. I can’t really see the picture when you say I am doing this for my future generations.

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