THUNDER BAY – Chief Donny Morris is challenging Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Rick Bartolucci to come north to the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KI). “Yesterday the Ontario government unilaterally withdrew 23,181 sq km of land in KI Homeland from mining exploration in response to KI’s longstanding decision to place a full moratorium on industry in our Indigenous Homeland. However, the claims and leases at the heart of KI’s conflict with Gods Lake Resources (GLR) are unaffected by ON’s move and the conflict over protection of our burials and sacred landscape remains unresolved,” stated KI in a news release issued on March 5th 2012.
“This decision could have been, and can be, an historical event, but once again we were excluded,” said KI Chief Donny Morris. “Now let’s finish this job. I challenge the Minister to come to KI for an historical event where we sit down, come to agreement, and sign off together to make this withdrawal permanent under KI Indigenous protection. And that should include our land that Gods Lake Resources is trying to access. Come to KI to sign together in a true spirit of cooperation.”
“We are mobilized to go to Sherman Lake. I cannot allow our graves to be desecrated by a company that is hiring guns to block us on our own land. That is no way to do business,” said Chief Morris.
“We are rallying public opinion onto our side. Ontario is trying to make decisions on our land without us and we need to end that.”
A youtube statement from Chief Morris will be posted on KILands.org and Kitchenuhmyakoosib.com.
“KI has Indigenous laws and responsibilities on our Homeland that we are bound to uphold – Kanaawayandan D’aaki,” explained KI Councilor Cecilia Begg, a grandmother who was jailed during the Platinex dispute. “When will Ontario fully respect our moratorium, Water Declaration, and Consultation Protocol to show that there is a real spirit of interest to work together.”
The withdrawn lands are more than 5 times the size of PEI, and nearly 37 times the size of the City of Toronto.
The new withdrawal does not include Gods Lake Resources’ (GLR) claims and leases at Sherman Lake in KI Homeland, a sacred area known to have KI burials and other cultural values. The MNDM has indicated that GLR intends to access that site this month, and may be on the land today. KI Chief Morris said in a Feb. 16 youtube video that his community was mobilizing and he feared that the situation would escalate. In a March 1 news release GLR indicated that they are looking to hire private security for their drill program – a potentially explosive move.
Leaders from KI will be in Toronto this week protesting at the world’s leading mining exploration Convention (PDAC),
WHAT: Hundreds rally and march outside major mining convention to demand that Ontario stop God’s Lake Resources Inc. from exploring on sacred KI burial grounds.
WHEN: Tuesday, March 6th, 1230pm.
WHERE: 255 Front Street West at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Convention, Metro Convention Center.
WHO: KI Councilor Cecilia Begg (of the KI6 jailed leaders), KI Councilor Randy Nanokeesic, Steven Chapman – KI Lands and Environment Unit, Maryam Adrangi – Council of Canadians, Ontario Federation of Labour, Ramsay Hart – Mining Watch, Shane Moffat – Greenpeace, Pat Smoke – Canadian Federation of Students, and Syed Hussan – Toronto KI Support Network.
VISUALS: Two 30 foot banners, colorful placards, and a flash-mob remix of Kanye West’s smash-hit Golddigger.
KI gained national attention in 2008 when six of its leaders were jailed for opposing mining company Platinex. Major unions and NGOs are joining forces with KI Indigenous Nation to insist that mining Minister Bartoluccui stop exploration on KI’s land before Ontario taxpayers have to foot the bill. In 2009, Platinex received $5-million plus mediation for ceding their claim to KI Lands.