Last Wednesday a lone first nations chief stood his ground against representatives seeking to develop mining claims in the traditional lands of his people.
It was the latest chapter in an 11-year land-claims saga, one that pits a remote reserve against a tiny mining company, and Ontario’s 136-year-old mining legislation against an obligation for the province and developers to consult native groups.
The latest round of mining conflict provides some shocking imagery in a sadly predictable circumstance.
Mining executives buzzing a First Nations chief’s boat is a stark reminder of the dangerous measures that some communities will go to, here and around the world, in order to protect their land.
The conditions for this stand-off are ripe in Ontario, so last fall we wrote a report on this and other gaps in the provincial Mining Act. Balancing Needs, Minimizing Conflict identified the need to meaningfully consult with the First Nations communities affected by mining development, and we were pleased this spring when the provincial government undertook Mining Act reform.
Unfortunately, the revisions lack a clear vision for addressing these types of conflicts. We need real leadership from this provincial government to establish the rights of these communities, and to ensure they aren’t fighting for their land on the frontlines of Big Trout Lake.