First Nation calls for province to halt mining in far northern Ontario

The Canadian Press

(c) 2006 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



TORONTO (CP) _ A group of First Nations people, who walked 2,000 kilometres from far northern Ontario to the provincial legislature, are demanding the province stop the mining in their region.


Community members from the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug band delivered their message at the provincial legislature on Wednesday.


“We want to protect the environment at the potential drilling-mining site plus the surrounding area which includes our Kitchenuhmaykoosib Lake,'' said Mark Anderson, who led the walkers from Pickle Lake, Ont. to Toronto.


“We want our children and grandchildren to continue to use the lands and resources to pursue their usual vocations of hunting, trapping, and fishing.''


Platinex Inc., a mining exploration company, received permission from the Ontario government to start drilling on the land about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont.


But the aboriginals said the company got the green light despite the fact the community declared a moratorium on resource development in 1998 and a Supreme Court of Canada ruling clearly laid out specific guidelines for the province.


“They have to consult and accommodate our interest, the interests of the First Peoples and they have not done so,'' argued band spokesman John Cutfeet.


“That is evident through the fact that they gave permits to this company called Platinex to come onto our territory without having spoken to the community,'' he said.


The Toronto company announced Feb. 27 that work had been delayed because people protesting the exploration blocked an access road and landing strip.


Platinex then filed an injunction to continue its work, saying it was legally cleared to do so.


The band and its council have filed a counterclaim against Platinex, seeking an injunction to stop the company's exploration program on the Big Trout Lake property.


Both motions will be heard Thursday in a Thunder Bay, Ont., court.