BIG TROUT LAKE – Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug [KI] are calling on Ontario to honour a promise made by the McGuinty government in 2008 and create a joint panel to resolve longstanding issues regarding mining exploration on their homelands. “In 2008, just before we were jailed, Ontario promised us a joint panel to resolve our outstanding issues with mining companies. We are still waiting for them to honour that promise” said KI Chief Donny Morris.
Minister Michael Gravelle has been reported as saying that he has accepted an invitation to visit the community and discuss matters, but he has made no clear commitment to the promised joint panel, he may no longer be Minister following the election, and the Ontario government has yet to ensure that our sacred burials will not be further disturbed.
“In 2008, the joint panel Ontario promised was never created, we went to jail, no discussions took place following our release by the Court of Appeal and now we find ourselves in the same situation with Gods Lake Resources threatening a sacred area and Ontario nowhere to be seen,” stated Chief Morris.
“In September 2009, in an eerily similar situation, mining exploration company Platinex described Minister Gravelle as a “bungler” and called on him to resign saying, ‘First he tells the media he’s offered both sides mediation. Then the very next day, he says he didn’t offer mediation. It’s small wonder that both Platinex and the KI First Nation have lost confidence in the Minister’ “, continued Morris.
KI has written to Minister Gravelle, requesting that he or his officials confirm the government commitment to the joint panel.
On September 28 at noon, KI issued an eviction notice to mining exploration company Gods Lake Resources when the community learned that the company had ignored community warnings and began work in an area containing a cemetery, numerous burials, and other sacred sites.
In 2008, the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug became a national cause celebre when six of their leaders[the KI6], including Chief Donny Morris, were jailed for defending their lands against unwanted mining exploration in a dispute with junior miner Platinex. Ultimately, the Ontario government paid Platinex $5 million to settle a lawsuit with the company stemming from the government’s alleged failure to properly consult Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug.