THUNDER BAY – The Batchewana First Nation has issued a statement on the ongoing issue between Solid Gold Resources and consultations with First Nations.
On November 1, 2012 Ontario introduced new rules and tools to the Mining Act to try and balance the interests of the mineral industry, Indigenous Peoples, and private land owners. Changes in the act are an attempt to make Indigenous consultation a cornerstone of mineral exploration and mine closure activities.
The Batchewana First Nation is governed by their own Law and Policies, which include a consultation policy and detailed permitting process that has cultivated positive working relations with several proponents such as Superior Copper Corporation and BluEarth Renewables.
Batchewana First Nation’s Natural Resource department attended the Ontario Prospectors Association’s (OPA) Exploration & Geoscience Symposium on November 7, 2012 where these changes to the Mining Act came under fire.
Solid Gold Resources Corporation President and CEO, Darryl Stretch presented a slide show titled, “Deathwatch of the Resource Industry” making claims that the Ontario government has set mining back to the Stone Age.
Stretch went on to say, when referencing Indigenous Peoples, “It is every man for himself against 133 hostile third‐party governments across the country”. Stretch’s presentation included offensive cartoons, absurd comparisons, and irrelevant
quotes all of which ironically conveyed the archaic principles of the Solid Gold Resources Corporation.
The demeaning presentation was a surprise to Symposium organizers who were unaware of the content due to the fact that the OPA does not have a screening process for presenters.
Batchewana First Nation attendees submitted a complaint to the Executive Director, Garry Clark of the OPA and requested a formal statement of apology.
Chief Dean Sayers commented, “It is unfortunate that as members of the OPA our representatives were subjected to Mr. Stretch’s racist rant. We find it disappointing that the OPA would allow their venue to be used as a soapbox for this individual. We are calling on the OPA to denounce and remove Solid Gold Resources and Mr. Stretch from their membership. If these measures aren’t taken our First Nation will have no choice but to lobby Ontario to cease funding and support for the OPA in light of the endorsement of this racist company and individual. It’s comments like Mr. Stretch’s, on behalf of Solid Gold Resources that set back mutual efforts between Ontario and Indigenous Peoples and consequently erode global economic certainty with respect to sustainable natural resource extractions in Canada”.
Batchewana First Nation leadership look forward to a formal statement from the OPA with regards to this unfortunate matter.