MAC: Mines and Communities

First Nation takes issue with national body over mining collaboration

Published by MAC on 2007-12-12

First Nation takes issue with national body over mining collaboration

12th December 2007

An embattled Canadian First Nation in Canada has told the national Indigenous organisation that its collaboration with the mining industry is a "dangerous step" giving companies "the idea that all First Nations want to 'partner' with them".

Open Letter Submitted by Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI)

Leadership to Assembly of First Nations

Posted by <>admin

Phil Fontaine, National Chief
Assembly of First Nations
Trebla Building
473 Albert Street, Suite 810
Ottawa, Ontario
K1R 5B4

December 12, 2007

Dear Chief Fontaine,

RE: Protecting our Customary Homelands

Last week at Ontario Superior Court in Thunder Bay, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) leadership stated they would rather be jailed for contempt of court than allow Platinex to drill on their customary homelands. Neal Smitheman, legal counsel for Fasken Martineau representing Platinex Inc., a junior mining company, threatened to bring back armed guards to protect the drillers. Back in February 2006, Platinex already had brought in a British mercenary to protect its mining activities.

In your recent speech to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada on October 12, 2007 you referred to the "ongoing legal dispute between Platinex and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug" - which in reality is the $10 billion lawsuit brought against KI by Platinex. The legal costs of this lawsuit have bankrupted KI causing hardship, and loss of housing and other community projects.

It is important that you know Platinex referred to you and your recent address to the Prospectors and Developers Association Conference three times during last week's court proceedings. The lawyers for Platinex were using your statements to support their case against Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug.

We are aware that you, under the guise of the AFN Chiefs' Committee of Economic Development, are pursuing collaborations with the resource extraction corporate sector, especially mining companies through your Corporate Challenge and Corporate Table. We think this is a dangerous step and the implications for far northern Ontario First Nations are that we could be put in legal jeopardy. It is our opinion that you are "jumping the gun" in creating these "nation-wide" alliances with the mining sector and giving them the idea that all First Nations want to "partner" with them.

Most recently, Gordon Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has recently called for an amendment of the outdated Ontario's provincial Mining Act - "the Ontario government should amend the Mining Act to include specific criteria that reflect MNDM's constitutional duty to consult the First Nations when granting mining claims and leases that may impact their rights".

KI is a remote fly-in First Nation located in the far north of Ontario north of the 53rd parallel. The peoples of KI will continue to practice their traditional methods of living from their customary homelands. We leave you with this Cree prophecy:

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

Thank you and the KI peoples await your response,

On behalf of KI,
Donny Morris, Chief

Grand Chief Denise Stonefish, AIAI
Grand Chief Arnold Gardner, Treaty #3
Grand Chief John Beaucage, Union of Ontario Chiefs
Grand Chief Stan Beardy, NAN
Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse


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