NIPPISSING – “Changes to the Ontario Mining Act require direct consultation with the Anishinabek Nation”, states Lake Huron Regional Grand Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini. “More than ever, the level of dialogue with First Nations is critical,” says Chief Day, who is Lands Portfolio holder for the Anishinabek Nation. “Our government-to-government discussions must match the dire need for clear and fair consultation with our First Nations and promote a clear and fair treaty right to sharing in the resource-based economy.”
“It is incumbent upon the Ministry to ensure that assigning a directive to developers to consult First Nations in the development process should in no way erode our rights at the government table,” says Chief Day. “The province must maintain its role as a treaty partner and accommodate a process that is consistent to Anishinabek goals and values.”
First Nations are increasingly seeking to have their voices heard in the process of economic development on their lands and traditional lands.
The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines recently posted a number of regulatory proposals for the second phase of new regulations under the Mining Act on Ontario’s Regulatory and Environmental Registries. Ministry officials have provided Anishinabek leadership with a written request to comment on the proposed regulations via the Environmental Registry by May 1, 2012.
The Anishinabek Nation asserts that First Nations have the right to be consulted and their interests accommodated on a direct, government-to-government basis on mining legislation that affects their treaty territories. Because of their unique historic and legal relationship with both levels of government in Canada, First Nations maintain that such public consultation processes as the submission of comments to the Environmental Registry do not meet the standards set by Supreme Court decisions on the duty to consult and accommodate.
The proposed regulations also state that proponents and prospectors will be compensated for their consultation expenses. As there is no comparable reference to First Nations compensation, the Anishinabek Nation requests that the Ministry address this inequitable distribution of financial resources for consultation capacity.