THUNDER BAY – Gull Bay First Nation is concerned over the current situation at North American Palladium. Chief King stated in a letter to the company and Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, ” I formally serve notice to all parties involved and all Ministries responsible for the permitting, monitoring and operation of North American Palladium’s industrial site, known as Lac des lies Mines, of the infringement of Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek – Gull Bay First Nation’s Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and the lack of legitimate consultation, accommodation and consent regarding the handling of the environmental spill that is currently occurring on its traditional territory.”
Constitutionally protected, Supreme Court endorsed (both federal and provincial), internationally recognized in case law and contained within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are the inherent responsibilities and legal obligations outlining how the fiduciaries must act and how this sensitive environmental matter must be addressed.
The First Nation cites a June 3rd press release posted on the North American Palladium (NAP) website for the purpose of servicing their investors, “We are taking significant steps and precautions to ensure that we mitigate any potential environmental impact from the controlled release,” added Mr. du Toit . “Throughout this entire process we have kept relevant government ministries, First Nations groups and other stakeholders informed of our mitigation plans. We appreciate their input and ongoing support.”
Chief King states, “This is simply not the case – nor is it the legal requirement that is due to Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek – Gull Bay First Nation on whose traditional territory the mining operation is located. We must be truly consulted – at a legal minimum – and not simply informed or updated. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Ministry of Northern Development and Mines were notified as such and cannot offload their obligation to do so. The NAP press release continues “…after consultation with the relevant government ministries, LOI has commenced a controlled release of water into the environment in order to restore the water balance. The released water contains higher than permitted levels of suspended solids, and aluminum and iron.”
“Exactly when are the People of Gull Bay First Nation to be truly and legally consulted? When are those charged with the obligation to duty to act as fiduciaries to our Peop going to explain and justify their conduct regarding the interference of our protected Rights?,” asks Chief King.
A spokesperson for Minister Michael Gravelle says, “Ministry staff have had a number of discussions with Gull Bay regarding the situation at the mine. The most recent discussion took place this morning to advise them of a ministry order that has been issued to the mine. The order requires the mine to take all measures necessary to prevent the failure of the tailings dames, minimize adverse impacts as a result of the discharge of tailings effluent and report back to the ministry on work at the site on a daily basis.
“The Ministry will be meeting with representatives from Gull Bay likely next week to answer any questions they may have and to provide further information on the mine in person.”