The consulta movement continues... in Northern Ontario!Published by MAC on 2011-07-18
Source: Kenora Daily Miner & News, statement (2011-07-08)
The KI First Nation that resisted advances by Platinex several years ago voted overwhelmingly (96%) on the 5th of July to protect their watershed from industrial activities, at the same time establishing the consultation protocol that they will follow from here on in.
Big Trout Lake holds referendum to protect lands and water from development
By Jon Thompson
Kenora Daily Miner & News
8 July 2011
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (Big Trout Lake) has voted nearly unanimously to protect the entire watershed in its traditional lands from all industrial activity.
In a community referendum held Tuesday, 96 per cent voted to support the KI Watershed Declaration and KI Consultation Protocol, which would protect 13,025 square kilometres of rivers, forest and wetlands from development.
In a release, the leadership said the declarations will become part of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation's indigenous laws and called on governments and corporations to recognize and respect the will of its people.
"The KI Watershed Declaration and the KI Consultation Protocol will give us a new mandate to foster dialogue with governments and corporations and as well as open up new opportunities in the areas of economic development, environmental sustainability and off-reserve issues," said chief Donny Morris.
The documents establish a framework for consent - not consultation - from the First Nation, a distinction made during the struggle with a junior mining company and the provincial government that garnered national headlines over the past three years.
In 2008, six community leaders, including chief Morris, were arrested for refusing to allow Platinex to prospect on nearby land. They were released following a public outcry. After the community blocked company executives from landing a float plane on the lake in 2009, Ontario purchased Platinex's claim for $5 million and 2.5 per cent net smelter royalty interest in connection with any future development on the property. At that time, the province committed to withdraw KI land from future staking and mineral exploration but according to the First Nation's leadership, corporate exploration has continued.
Environmental organization Earthroots called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to respect KI's wishes, which would supercede consultation frameworks established in the Far North Act and the recently updated Ontario Mining Act.
"Far too many First Nations communities are forced to suffer from industrially contaminated water sources," said David Sone of Earthroots. "Earthroots fully supports this visionary decision by the elders, citizens, and leadership of KI First Nation; a decision that will benefit all Ontarians. We call on Premier McGuinty to act swiftly to recognize and respect KI's decision to protect their water and, if necessary, we will take action with KI to help defend their life-giving watershed."
Earthroots calls on McGuinty to respect KI First Nation water protection
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Media Release
6 July 2011
Toronto - Yesterday Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KI) voted overwhelmingly in favour of protecting their entire watershed from all industrial activity. In a community referendum, 96% of voters supported the KI Watershed Declaration which applies to a vast 13,025 square kilometer area of boreal lakes, rivers, forest, and wetlands in KI Homeland that is over 20 times the size of the City of Toronto. The Watershed Declaration is intended to protect the 661 square kilometer Big Trout Lake and the watersheds of all rivers which flow into and out of the lake.
"Far too many First Nations communities are forced to suffer from industrially contaminated water sources," said David Sone of Earthroots. "Earthroots fully supports this visionary decision by the Elders, citizens, and leadership of KI First Nation; a decision that will benefit all Ontarians. We call on Premier McGuinty to act swiftly to recognize and respect KI's decision to protect their water and, if necessary, we will take action with KI to help defend their life-giving watershed."
In 2008 six KI leaders were jailed for refusing to allow mining exploration that the community feared could contaminate Big Trout Lake. After massive public outcry an appeals court released the jailed KI leaders and in 2009 the province bought out the Platinex mining claims in the area and promised never to develop them without KI's support. But other mining companies continue to stake claims on KI Homeland without KI consent, raising the possibility of further strife.
The remote fly-in community is taking proactive steps to prevent further resource conflicts by clearly delineating areas off limits to industry, and the process which industry and government must follow in respectfully discussing potential resource projects with KI.
The KI Watershed Declaration states "We declare all waters that flow into and out of Big Trout Lake, and all lands whose waters flow into those lakes, rivers, and wetlands, to be completely protected through our continued care under KI's authority, laws and protocols... No industrial uses, or other uses which disrupt, poison, or otherwise harm our relationship to these lands and waters will be permitted."
"The Walkerton Inquiry led to new legislation like the Safe Drinking Water Act which mandates the protection of community drinking water sources across the province, including in the North," said Amber Ellis, Earthroots Executive Director. "Respecting KI's decision to protect their watershed is a necessary step towards implementing the right of all people to have access to safe water."
For more information: http://www.kitchenuhmaykoosib.com/landsandenvironment/