WINNIPEG – Mining – Missinippi Nehthowak and Hudbay head to court. “We are sovereign and asserting our laws and jurisdiction over our unceded ancestral traditional territory,” states Chief Dumas of the Missinippi Nehethowak. “We have never gave up our lands, waters and natural resources. We have a responsibility to manage their use and protection. MCCN expected the province of Manitoba to uphold the rule of law and assist in enforcing the orders.”
The Chiefs of Manitoba state, in a media statement, “Hudbay never contacted Chief Dumas to address his concerns, nor did the province fulfill its legal obligations to enforce the Stop Work Orders. Instead, both Hudbay and the province of Manitoba issued very similar letters to Chief Dumas telling him that Manitoba fully supports Hudbay’s activities on MCCN territory”.
The sovereign Nation of Missinippi Nehethowak as represented by Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) has extensive Ancestral and Traditional Territory. Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Ltd (Hudbay) has proposed Lalor Lake mine project which is on unceded Missinippi Nehethowak Territory and has failed to obtain MCCN consent to operate on their territory and extract their resources.
Chief Dumas attended with his community members and Idle No More supporters to the Lalor site on January 28 and March 5, 2013 and served two Stop Work Orders to the Hudbay and the Province of Manitoba. Both site visits were peaceful gatherings where community members engaged in drumming, singing and cooking traditional foods. The RCMP attended at MCCN’s request to help enforce Cree law.
Chief Arlen Dumas said, “We are sovereign and asserting our laws and jurisdiction over our unceded ancestral traditional territory. We have never gave up our lands, waters and natural resources. We have a responsibility to manage their use and protection. MCCN expected the province of Manitoba to uphold the rule of law and assist in enforcing the orders.”
Idle No More is a grassroots Indigenous movement which has been growing in intensity over the last few months. The movement, which focuses on advancing Indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights, has engaged in educational teach-ins, round dances, marches, rallies and protests.
Idle No More’s core messages have related to opposing federal legislation violating Aboriginal and treaty rights; addressing the urgent crisis of poverty in First Nations and implementing the treaties so that both treaty partners prosper. Protecting the lands and waters in Canada for our future generations has been a central theme throughout.
Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer and professor from Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick. She is also the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University and works with First Nations all over Canada on treaty and governance matters. She has won multiple awards for her social justice advocacy for raising awareness on First Nation rights and history. She was one of the spokespersons for Idle No More early on and has been an organizer ever since.
Palmater was invited by Chief Dumas of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) and his community to help them organize their cultural activities at Hudbay’s Lalor Lake Mine and to help co-ordinate Idle No More’s involvement. Idle No More representatives from northern Manitoba were eager to join Palmater, Chief Dumas in MCCN’s efforts to assert their inherent rights, engage in their traditional customs and practices, and defend their lands and waters.
Palmater said: “This movement was inspired by the need of our grassroots people to defend our sovereignty, lands and treaties. Our traditional and elected leaders are no longer in this battle alone. When Idle No More encouraged people to stand up, we committed to be in this for the long haul. The provincial governments have effectively engaged in blockades against First Nations economies for years. They have prevented First Nations from accessing their own lands and resources, and Idle No More is here to support MCCN in defending its sovereignty and its right to protect its resources.”
Hudbay’s lawsuit against Palmater is an act of intimidation to silence her advocacy work with First Nations. Hudbay’s threat of jail time would devastate her family. “The Indigenous Guatemalans report that when they refused to be evicted by Hudbay, their leader was killed and their women raped. In Canada, Hudbay is using a lawsuit and threat of jail to force an eviction of Indigenous peoples. We have to support leaders like Chief Dumas who are willing to put their freedom on the line to defend his land for future generations” Palmater added.