MAC: Mines and Communities

De Beers Risks Losing Social License to Operate in Canada

Published by MAC on 2006-05-02

De Beers Risks Losing Social License to Operate in Canada

IDEX Online Staff Reporter

2nd May 2006

Tensions between De Beers and the Muskrat Dam First Nation are strained after the community found an ongoing drill program underway at their traditional goose hunting area. Chief Vernon Morris, of the Muskrat Dam First Nation, is demanding that De Beers end the drill program and begin negotiations with the community to redress the disruption to the hunt.

Chief Morris has also written to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines demanding that the province assume their legal obligations under the treaty to protect the First Nations' right to hunt. Currently, according to the Mining Act, De Beers can stake and explore mine claims without consulting the First Nations.

"We will continue to see a peaceful resolution of this issue," said Chief Morris. "However, we will use every avenue, including the courts, to protect our traditional way of life and our land from the impact of De Beers' activities. De Beers is threatening our identity as aboriginal people."

The annual spring goose hunt, which takes place in the area north of Bearskin Lake, Ontario, usually returns 200 geese for community use. Said Chief Morris, "The activities of procuring the geese are a source of cultural value and social well-being, particularly for the elders."

Last October, the Muskrat Dam First Nation was one of a number of Far North communities that declared a moratorium on mining exploration and development on their traditional lands.

The latest dispute is just one in a series of battles between First Nations over mining in Ontario's far north. Last week, junior mining company Platinex applied for a court injunction over a dispute with Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninumug Platinex are seeking to create a "treaty rights free zone" in order to pursue their drilling program.

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