Assembly of First Nations backs evictions from northern Ontario
TORONTO—In late July, hundreds of First Nations chiefs from across the country backed a moratorium on mining and development in an area of Northern Ontario known as the “Ring of Fire.” They also called for the eviction of companies operating in the mineral rich area, which has been described as “Ontario’s oil sands”.
The province has called the Ring of Fire “one of the most promising mineral development opportunities in Ontario in almost a century.” The area contains the largest chromite deposits in North America, as well as gold, nickel, copper, platinum and palladium. Opening the area to development has become a major focus for the Dalton McGuinty government.
The moratorium demand and eviction notices were voted on by the hundreds of First Nations chiefs gathered in Toronto for the Assembly of First Nations’ (AFN) Annual General Assembly. The AFN is the largest First Nations advocacy organization in the Canada.
“It is solidarity,” said Sonny Gagnon the Chief of Aroland First Nation, whose community would be impacted by the development. “We need the support. If and when we need to go on the land to enforce the evictions notice…we will have 633 First Nations that will be behind us.”
Over 20 mining companies have claims in the Ring of Fire; however a major impediment to these projects is that there is currently no ground access to area. Several companies are now competing to build road or rail access.
Proposals from two of these companies, Noront Resourses and Cliffs Natural Resources, have entered the province’s Environmental Assessment stage. This has lead First Nations to believe that the projects are moving ahead without obtaining their “free, prior and informed consent,” as laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In late June, the Matawa First Nations Council, which is made up of nine first nations communities, announced an “immediate moratorium on all mining exploration and development…unless, and until, Ontario and Canada come to a government-to-government table with a mandate to negotiate fundamental questions of First Nations jurisdiction…and real resource benefits and revenue sharing for our First Nation.”
For the rest of this article, please go to The Dominion website: http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/4556