GULL BAY, ON – Mining – The Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (KZA) or Gull Bay First Nation has publicly expressed its determination to guard its treaty rights against what it terms unconstitutional mining claim registrations. Recent weeks have seen a surge of new mining claim registrations near the KZA’s reserve on Gull River.
KZA Chief Wilfred N. King voiced his concern over the Mining Act, which, he stated, allows anyone with a prospector’s license to stake mining claims without considering the constitutionally-protected treaty rights associated with these lands, and without consultation. Chief King emphasized that the registration of these claims under Ontario’s free entry mining system infringes upon their treaty rights and the obligation to consult.
The mining claims staked near the KZA’s reserve are directly within an area that the KZA has identified for the expansion of its reserve. This is part of their effort to redress past and ongoing violations of the Robinson Superior Treaty. Presently, KZA, Ontario, and Canada are negotiating a settlement concerning KZA’s outstanding claim about the size of its reserve. The claim arises from the Crown’s failure to survey and set aside a reserve at Gull River of the size agreed upon by the Treaty parties in 1850.
Chief King continued, explaining that the Ontario Crown is permitting prospectors to acquire mining claim interests on lands that Ontario knows are crucial to KZA for reserve expansion. According to him, the process through which these claims were registered breaches their treaty rights and the Crown’s duties, rendering it unlawful. Any claims that interfere with KZA’s reserve land selection process are invalid, he asserted.
The Chief concluded, “We are putting all prospectors and mining proponents on notice that we strenuously oppose any mining claim registration in the area near our reserve. KZA will pursue any and all remedies necessary to protect our rights and interests in these lands.”
Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek is a First Nation located approximately 250 km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the western shore of Lake Nipigon. It is an original signatory of the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850 and has a membership of 1574 members.