THUNDER BAY – Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation said, “Cliffs, Noront and all the other mining companies active in the Ring of Fire will have thirty days from the time the eviction notice is served to pack up their bags and leave our lands”. The Ring of Fire has been dubbed Ontario’s “Oil Sands” by Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak. It has been seen as an economic benefit by the Ontario government and by the mining companies. However First Nations are frustrated in many cases by the lack of concern being shown their communities by the mining companies exploring in the region. There are twenty mining companies who First Nations across the north are now receiving eviction notices.
The list includes Cliffs Natural Resources and NorOnt Resources as well as eighteen other companies. The notice that the eviction notices was coming was made on June 22, 2012. The eviction notice for a moratorium on all Ring of Fire mining activity will come from the First Nation communities of Aroland, Constance Lake, Ginoogaming, Longlake #58, Neskantaga, and Nibinamik.
Neskantaga First Nation have launched a legal challenge to Cliffs Natural Resources and Ontario. The hearing is scheduled to start on July 5th 2012 at 10AM at the Office of the Mining and Lands Commissioner at700 Bay Street in Toronto.
In a background document from the Neskantaga First Nation, they state, “American mining giant Cliffs Natural Resources faces a First Nation legal challenge to the development of its $3.2 billion chromite mine in the undeveloped Attawapiskat River watershed and the homeland of the Neskantaga First Nation.
“In a petition filed with the Ontario Mining and Land Commissioner, the Neskantaga First Nation seeks to be meaningfully consulted and accommodated before any government decision is made to advance Cliffs 340 km road into the heart of Neskantaga territory.
“Neskantaga are intervening before the Mining and Lands Commissioner because it is abundantly clear that First Nations cannot expect to receive a fair hearing within Ontario, where a multi billion dollar mine, a refinery and thousands of jobs are at stake in a project the Premier describes as in the national interest. Neskantaga need help now and help fast before they and other First Nations are steamrolled by Cliffs rush to build this road and mine. Once the road is built it will be too late for a way of life and the environment that way of life depends upon.
“The Neskantaga legal action is the first time the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner tribunal has been used as a court to answer the practical question about how the duty to consult works”.
Chief Peter Moonias of Neskantaga First Nation said, “We are sending a strong message to Ontario and Canada that we need to negotiate a process for First Nation participation in the mining projects that will be changing our lives forever. Unless and until we have a table for government to government negotiations we will evict the intruders from our lands’.
Chief Johnny Yellowhead of Nibinamik First Nation said, “All the Memorandums of Cooperation in the world cannot hide the fact that there are no negotiations or agreements in place with Ontario and Canada to deliver First Nation decision making, a full and thorough regional environmental assessment with hearings in our communities and resource revenue sharing. Unless we stop this project now and assert our Aboriginal and Treaty rights we will be left on the sidelines watching the chromite leave our lands while our communities remain in poverty”.