KI First Nation – Mining Now – As over a hundred KI supporters rallied in Toronto, KI Chief Donny Morris travelled to the Sherman Lake site yesterday to guard against what the KI First Nation in a statement says is “trespass by mining exploration company Gods Lake Resources (GLR)”. The Chief is challenging the government of Ontario to avert an escalated conflict with the junior gold exploration company which insists on drilling on leases and claims in an area known to contain sacred burials and other KI cultural values.
“We are getting ready for the company that is coming to this territory,” said Chief Morris. “Bartolucci, I’m here now so let’s start the negotiations, let’s sit down.”
A spokesperson for Minister Bartolucci said, “Our Ministry has tried repeatedly to visit the community with KI representatives and elders since January 2010 to ensure that any sites of cultural significance can be identified and afforded necessary protection. As per the press release our Ministry issued, the government removed lands from future claim staking that were previously identified by KI.
“Our government has great respect for First Nations and believes in the ability of companies and First Nations to work together to achieve a mutual benefit. In fact, since 1999 there have been more than 90 mineral benefit agreements signed which have created economic related benefits to First Nations communities across Ontario”, concluded the spokesperson for Minister Bartolucci.
In a statement from the KI First Nation, “On Sunday 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 GLR are unaffected by ON’s move and the dispute over protection of our burials and sacred landscape remains unresolved.
“The MNDM has indicated that GLR intends to access the site this month. Both GLR and ON refuse to say what date the company plans to move its drill rig in, prompting KI to establish a reconnaissance presence at the site.. 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”.
“As a child this is where I grew up hunting with my family, and I’m here now on familiar ground,” said Chief Morris.
KI gained national attention in 2008 when six of its leaders, including Chief Morris, 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.