Eabametoong First Nation Celebrates Court Overturning Landore Mining Exploration Permit

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Eabametoong FN Chief Elizabeth Atlookan
Eabametoong FN Chief Elizabeth Atlookan

From the air - Ebametoong First Nation
From the air – Ebametoong First Nation

THUNDER BAY – The Divisional Court of Ontario overturned a drilling exploration permit issued by the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Mines, Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs. The permit had been granted to Landore Resources Canada in 2016, against Eabametoong’s objections. The Court held that Ontario failed to consult honourably with Eabametoong and that Landore did not properly carry out the consultation duties delegated to it by Ontario.

The Court found that Eabametoong members intensively and extensively use the permit area for harvesting and cultural activities. As of this morning, a number of families are heading out to this significant traditional area.

Ontario breached its duty to consult with Eabametoong by unilaterally terminating the consultation process contrary to the reasonable expectations of Eabametoong, for reasons it did not communicate to Eabametoong. The Court also found that Ontario failed to share other critical information with Eabametoong, such as feedback on its concerns regarding the permit, and its private meetings with the company. As a result, Ontario’s conduct did not meet the honour of the Crown or promote trust and reconciliation between the Crown and First Nations.

Eabametoong FN Chief Elizabeth Atlookan
Eabametoong FN Chief Elizabeth Atlookan

Chief Atlookan stated: “It is unfortunate that we were forced to use our limited resources to go to Court to fight for our rights and way of life, but I am pleased that the Court found in our favour. I hope the decision means that both governments and companies in the future will conduct themselves at a higher and more honourable standard in their dealings with us. The integrity of our land and our way of life is priceless to us. We will continue to ensure that nothing happens on our lands without our involvement.”

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler applauds Chief Elizabeth Atlookan and Council following today’s ruling that revokes a mining exploration permit due to inadequate consultation with Eabametoong First Nation:

“We applaud Chief Atlookan and Council, and are encouraged that the duty to consult and the recognition of First Nations’ harvesting and cultural activities in their traditional territories were upheld in this decision. NAN First Nations are committed to defending and asserting their rights in all activities on their homelands, and we are pleased that the court has ruled in favour of Eabametoong.”

Today, Ontario’s Divisional Court overturned an exploration permit issued by the province to Landore Resources Canada in 2016 despite opposition from the community. The Court found that the Government of Ontario failed to consult honorably with Eabametoong, and that the company failed to consult as required by Ontario.

Eabametoong First Nation is the largest remote community with rights and interests in the Ring of Fire area and is a strong participant in discussions with Ontario and Canada on the potential Ring of Fire projects and access roads. With respect to the status of that dialogue, Chief Atlookan added: “We stand in unity with our fellow Matawa First Nations as we make progress towards reconciliation through real involvement with decisions that may impact our members for generations. This case shows that the previous government was not fulfilling its obligations according to a reasonable and honourable standard for exploration projects, so there is tremendous concern over lack of information and any decision-making role in future major projects and developments. The way forward begins with recognition of our rights, not attempts to dismiss them as we saw with Landore and MNDM. We look forward to dialogue with the new Ontario government on meaningful joint decision-making within environmental, permitting, infrastructure, and other land management processes.”