By Jon Thompson
Posted 9 days ago
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (Big Trout Lake) walked away from talks with the province on Monday after the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines couldn't reassure its leadership that it would hold back a gold mining company from exploring in its traditional territory.
"They (Ontario) were wanting to talk about a joint panel but there are outstanding issues that KI has had with Ontario's actions, encouraging mining exploration companies to come into the territory without consulting or accommodating in our community," said the first nation's spokesman, John Cutfeet. "The law requires them to negotiate in good faith and negotiate in our interest."
In September, the First Nation issued an eviction notice to God's Lake Resources when its members found a mining camp operating without their authorization or consultation. The company refused the order and declared it would return, as Ontario has licensed it to explore in the area.
Big Trout Lake insists it needs to take inventory of ancient burial sites and traditional land use areas but accuses the province of rushing the first nation, as the inventory has yet to be funded.
"At this point it's piece meal," Cutfeet said of the process. "It's going to take time to finish the land documentation process and we're dealing with the seasons, now. We can't do this in the middle of winter to appease someone else's timeline."
The leadership of the First Nation was jailed in 2008 for standing up to mining company, Platinex, but was released upon appeal. At the time, Premier Dalton McGuinty declared the incident, along with the modernization of Ontario's Mining Act, would spawn a new era of cooperation. Chief Donny Morris sees a replay of the conflict on the horizon and appealed to both the premier and the public for patience.
"KI is facing a repeat of the Platinex dispute and Ontario has learned nothing from the Court of Appeals decision," Morris said. "Where is the change Premier McGuinty promised when we were released from jail?"
A spokesman for the ministry said it would continue ongoing discussions with all parties.