The following two reports document how First Nations in Canada are being challenged as traditional lands and rights are destroyed.
Roseau River Railway Blockade
Information from Chief Terrance Nelson
Roseau River will peacefully blockade two railway lines for exactly 24 hours starting Thursday June 29th at 4:00 p.m. and ending Friday June 30th at 4:00 p.m. One of these railway line blockades will be north of Dominion City, four miles east and one and half miles north of the main Roseau River reservation, the other railway line to be blockaded is north of Letellier, which is approximately two and half miles west of Roseau River and one mile north of Letellier. Both railway lines move goods and services into and from the United States and will affect business in North Dakota, Minnesota and beyond. Both railway lines run on our traditional territory, we hold underlying title to those lands.
At noon on Thursday June 29 in front of the Roseau River Community Hall, two Roseau River drums will begin singing. People will gather to hear from the elders, the leadership and from the people themselves why First Nations are angry enough at Canada to initiate this action. Roseau River’s traditional territory was over 2000 square miles in south central Manitoba prior to the signing of Treaty # one on August 3rd 1871.
The Crown promised, that no white man would ever be allowed to set foot upon the reservation without our permission. The Crown pledged on their honor that if we agreed to the treaty giving them access to our 3 million acres of land that the reserved lands would be ours forever. Just 32 years later on January 30th 1903, the government would force the surrender of 12 sections or 70% of our reserve. Mr. Atkinson would be shot and killed for refusing to leave his home. It takes the Minister of Indian Affairs, twelve days to recommend an Order in Council and in just 26 days by February 25 1903 the white farmers have full ownership of 12 sections of our reserve with a signed Order in Council.
In 1993, we had RCMP snipers in our fields when we tried to open a casino that could have bought in 100 million dollars a year for us. Once again our jurisdiction, our right to govern ourselves was denied by force of arms. We could not enjoy the same rights as our Anishinabe relatives in the States. We still have 77% unemployment. We are denied any recognition of our right to lease our 3 million acres of traditional lands and each year we receive less and less funding. It took us 125 years to get Treaty Land Entitlement recognized. Eight years we have waited to have our TLE land converted and still we have to wait, but it took the white farmers only 26 days to get an Order in Council taking our 12 sections of reservation lands away.
Roseau River is owed at least 60 million dollars from the 1903 land claim. We have been peaceful, we have been patient, we have waited 103 years for justice but meanwhile in Caledonia the white people got compensation already, millions of dollars have already been pledged by the government, yet the white people only had to wait 100 days, not a 100 years for the government to act.
Yes we believe that there are two sets of laws in Canada, one for whites and another for the Indians.
The Supreme Court of Canada decided in Haida that “Knowledge of a credible but unproven claim is enough to trigger a duty to consult.” In spite of the law as decided in Mikkisew, where Justice Binney of the Supreme Court wrote that it was illegal for government officials to be indifferent, it is exactly what the Government of Canada does, Liberal or Conservative, they ignore the law if it is in favor of the Indians. Why do you think that in 1982, Premier Lyons of Manitoba would absolutely refuse having the Right of Property recognized in the Charter? They tried to stack the law in their favor but it didn’t work so they ignore the law when it is convenient for them to ignore it.
Over five hundred murdered and missing First Nation women in Canada. Our people fill the jails and prisons in Canada. Over 50% of the people killed at the hands of police in Canada are First Nations people. Over 6000 land claims in limbo because Canada refuses to put in place a process that will deal with these matters. The Conservatives refused to deal with the Kelowna accord despite the fact ten provincial premiers, three territories and the previous federal government had agreed to it. In Six Nations/Caledonia land claim, it was the people who took action, it was the people who finally had enough and decided not to be sidetracked by a useless Canadian government process, they, the people took direct action.
So I ask the question, are the people tired? Are you tired of watching hundreds of billions of dollars of resource wealth paid to the governments of Canada, while you, the original owners are denied a share of your own wealth. Are you tired of the housing problems, the lack of education opportunities, the denial of health coverage, the injustice, the brutality, are you tired of being the poorest of the poor in Canada. Are you tired of watching immigrants to our lands taking our resource wealth, while at the same time they call you down for not paying taxes to their government?
We at Roseau River will stand up as we have always done. We will not be ignored. We will not obey any white court injunction that the railway companies might try and get imposed upon us, an injunction that will be unilaterally imposed, an injunction that would deny our right of property.
We signed a treaty with Canada. They are obligated by the terms and conditions of that treaty. The immigrant to our land gets their title from the Crown but the Crown got their rights from us, the indigenous people of these lands. We were here first, these are our lands. We hold the underlying title to all these lands including under the rail lines.
At 3:30 p.m. vehicles will pull out of the reserve headed to the blockade sites. At exactly 4:00 p.m. cars will be driven onto the rail lines and we will stay exactly 24 hours to send a message to Canada, that we will no longer tolerate our rights being ignored. The Okiijida Society will provide security and will not tolerate any acts of violence from anyone. We will welcome all peaceful people to join us on June 29th and 30th 2006. We ask that you get there at noon in order to ensure everyone knows their responsibility.
Chief Terrance Nelson
From: Orakwa International Indigenous Ent.
Subject: "Liar's Club" meets in Court re: 6 Nations
This is our report on the court proceedings. Kinda long but worth the read. Kahentinetha
A SUBDUED “LIAR’S CLUB” MEETS IN CAYUGA COURT TO TALK ABOUT THE SIX NATIONS RECLAMATION OF STOLEN LAND
MNN. June 20, 2006. Ontario Provincial Police, Caledonians, the Henning brothers, their girlfriends or employees, railroad people, worried government agents – looking so much like those “John and Jane Does” the OPP are looking for – turned up at Cayuga court on Friday, June 16th. A guy came in who looked like one of those kids on “South Park” – with a round soft pumpkin face, no hair and a slit drawn in for a mouth. It turned out to be Judge David “He’s-got-land-on-the-Haldimand-Tract” Marshall. There was no Indigenous representation. There were about a dozen natives sitting quietly, spying and nodding, 50 lawyers, 10 court workers, 15 OPP inside, dozens outside, spies, secret service and other unknowns. It was a sea of white hair and bald heads. About 50 media were inside and another 50 outside standing around in the hot sun.
There was a Union Jack on the left and a Maple Leaf on the right of the judge’s chair. Does this mean he can declare “Marshall” law anytime he pleases? We didn’t see a warrior flag anywhere! It was an austere old-looking room that could have used some dusting and polishing, just like their laws and their disobedience to them. Everyone was hoping for the “big decision” that will keep their game of robbing us going.
I sat there with a scarf over my head and huge sunglasses that covered most of my face. The jury box was full of reporters. Later I joined them. The native lawyer for the Six Nations Band Council approached me about taking off my glasses. I said, “But sir, they’re prescription”. He left me alone. Everyone spoke English. All officials were Caucasian except for one OPP female officer whom I happen to know as a child. She promised she wouldn’t tell anyone she spotted me.
One OPP car had Indigenous police. Most of these gun-wielding goons are fifi-ish. Too many donuts at the Tim Horton’s? They’re so out of shape they have to hire outside goons like the KKK and skinheads to do their fighting for them.
An obese reporter sat at the press table. He probably got that beer belly sitting night after night at the Toronto Newspaperman’s club, bragging about being “out on the ‘front lines’ at the ‘6’” as they call Six Nations. Another ‘heavy’ sat next to him wearing one of those Jewish caps.
A huge lady with long frizzy white shoulder length hair sat in front of me. She was from the Attorney General’s Office in Toronto. She’s here trying to help with the rip-off of our land. To her left was the publicist for the Henning brothers. The Henning brothers, in regulation golf shirts, sat next to their publicist. Their lawyer sat next to them. Every once in a while they would get up and stand in a huddle, like they do in football. One guy turned and waved to someone, “Hi, Jason”. They all smiled and waved to each other as if they’re all from the same club.
Some were walking around nervous. A number of those “fist flying” Caledonians were there too. It was hard to recognize them without their professionally printed “Bring in the Army” signs. We read in a local paper that they are having 250 more printed and are selling them for $7 each. Ontario entrepreneurship! [Did they get a grant from the Canadian Business Development Bank?] We wondered if we could ask that printer to give us a good deal by slightly changing the message to “Bring in the clan mothers”.
One of the lawyers brought in two people from Caledonia to speak as friends of the court. No, it wasn’t Caledonia Mayor Marie “Who-Hates-Po’-Indins” Trainer, who keeps asking, “Is there two laws?” We thought they’d put duct tape on her big racist mouth! We still wonder what those big medals she wears around her shoulders represent? Does it mean she’s up to her neck in colonialism?
Right after the court opened, Judge Marshall adjourned it so the lawyers could have a meeting with each other and discuss when they could have another meeting. “A lot has happened since we last met. The blockades have come down, the roads and railroad are open”. They really don’t have anything to cry and scream about. So how can they keep this thing going? It takes the tinge out of their complaints about us.
The provincial government gave the Caledonians $1.78 million to keep their businesses going. The Caledonia Citizens Alliance CCA is having another meeting on June 19th. Their meetings have been very productive. They got a $560,000 grant and the nod from the OPP to purchase guns. It’s obvious they haven’t let go of their fantasies about “Little Big Horn”.
The province now has an agreement with Henco Industries [the developers who were illegally building a housing project on Six Nations Land] to “buy” the property which we own. Development will not proceed because it’s ours and we do not want it. They said they want to balance everybody’s interests, especially their bank accounts. Talks will continue between the Six Nations and the province. 250 acres have been made available of the Bertsch Lands, where their huge jail use to be. The Six Nations have planted crops. Judge Marshall wants something to be “fair and reasonable”, but not lawful. He just loved how everybody came to his court. It makes him feel so important.
The Attorney General of Canada said that the federal government is now part of the talks. They should be there because they are one of the criminals!
The lawyer for the Henning “Golf Shirt” brothers said, “The details of the agreement are being worked out. They will buy Douglas Creek Estates”. Off of who? It is now a barren piece of dry wasteland.
The OPP lawyer said, “We don’t know where the OPP stand. There have been 23 violent incidents. He forgot to mention that the OPP had arranged them all. Warrants have been issued against those Indians who got in the way of the Caledonia rioters’ baseball bats, pepper spray, cars, fists, racist taunts, flying garbage , bread, cheese and beer bottles and other unidentified flying objects. They’re trying to find some criminal charges to put on the Indigenous people they’ve selected. Since we are unarmed and peaceful they’re having a very hard time. Yes, the OPP have not charged any of the vicious violent non-native rioters. They even brought in the ATF from the United States to help them incriminate the Indians, but that failed because the Indians smoked them out. The Indians circled their wagon. The OPP thought the ATF knew how to get innocent people in jail better than them. They found out the US tactic is to kill everybody, no questions asked. Are the OPP in the process of getting permission to do that? At least, this is what we thought we heard in the courtroom.
Yes, we’re afraid the rule of law has been suspended [by the OPP]. The inflammatory comments of the Ontario Police Association doesn’t help! Mr. McCarthy said, “Rule of law with regard to title, the relationship between the Crown and the patents and the change of title are important issues of law. The statements having been made the concerned discern no additional useful contributions in these present changed circumstances”. In other words, they don’t want to deal with the land and title issue!
Someone from the prestigious law firm of Gordon Ladner of Toronto said, “This is a very difficult case. It’s not a “peaches and cream” case. It has a nasty side”. Right! You guys are a bunch of nasty colonists, just like your ancestors!
After the break, there was a discussion about this return of land to the Six Nations and how it places all other developments into jeopardy. Right on! The lands are all Six Nations lands. They never asked us if they could put in a $40 million strip mall in Brantford. Jane Stewart, who’s representing Ontario at the talks with us, didn’t ask us if she could build 23,500 houses in Paris, Ontario. The Henning brothers are planning to put up 1,500 houses in Cayuga, not far from the courthouse. Caledonia Mayor Marie Trainor didn’t ask us about her ten-year growth plan on our land.
The Hennings want their initial $6 million investment plus the $40 to $60 million they might have earned. If they don’t get this, are they planning to keep our land? It’s still ours. Six Nations has a right to compensation from Henco for the irreparable damage they’ve done to our land.
Their calculations are all wrong. According to the Supreme Court of Canada in Musqueam v. Glass, the Hennings can only be compensated for the fair market value of their land. In Vancouver prime reserve land goes for half the market value. On the Haldimand Tract it might be even less, particularly since we never consented. Ontario taxpayers will probably be forced to give them an inflated price because the news is being kept out of the corporate media. Will Jane Stewart want to be paid off too? Ontario is giving them a settlement, not the land! Now we hear Ontario or someone is going to put the land into trust. Another scam! We never asked them to do that! So far they’ve been totally untrustworthy from the beginning of our association.
The judge said that all these people will be called back “when it’s useful” [to who?].
The precedent being set is that Ontario has been hit with the truth about their theft of our land. They’re trying to bury this issue.
They did not mention what was behind their quiet subdued demeanor. The Supreme Court of Canada has set new trends in dealing with Indigenous people. In the Haida Nation and Mikkisew Cree Nation cases, there can be no development on Indigenous land without consulting us. Anyone going against these Supreme Court of Canada decisions is in contempt of court.
Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin said in Haida, “Knowledge of a credible but unproven claim is enough to trigger a duty to consult. The Crown can no longer delay settling a native claim. Canada needs a credible reason not to settle with us. We can’t be ignored anymore. They’ll come up with some reason not to deal with us, like saying they can’t deal with terrorists. In the past they made an excuse that they could not deal with us because of their policy that we were “non-persons”. Today Canada has had to admit we are persons under both domestic and international laws. The time has come for all of us to repossess all our land.
In Mikkisew Justice Binney of the Supreme Court wrote that it was illegal for government officials to be indifferent. Ignoring us in now illegal. But they still need our permission to look at us.
The duty to consult is grounded in the honor of the Crown. The Crown has to keep its word. They have to look at Indigenous matters from our perspective. Do they realize they are ignoring us? Are they scared to deal with us?
Aboriginal rights is based on the principle fact that “we were here first”. In the case law, Section 35.1 reconciles this principle against the aspersion that the Crown has sovereignty. This principle doesn’t exist and never did. It was all a hoax that the colonists enforced with guns. It’s like a stick up! Our position is supported internationally. The court has to see things our way. The question we have to keep asking is, “What are you doing here?”
In Mikkisew Treaty 8, Canada thought that a treaty is once and for all. They told themselves that once they took our possessions with their phony treaties, then everything belongs to them. They thought they could push us around and do whatever they wanted. No so. In Mikkisew the relationship with the Crown requires continuous negotiation. The signing of treaty 8 was not the end. It was just the beginning of a long journey that is not likely to end soon. It may never end because we are never going to end and disappear. We will always be the original people here. They will always be the colonists and they will always have to negotiate with us. And if they don’t negotiate in good faith, there will always be trouble. Or they can go home. They will always have to explain to us what they’re doing here because we’re going to keep asking. Get it, Canada?
Canada has to understand the relationship as an ongoing treaty of alliance rather than as a one shot deal. As Binney pointed out in Mikkisew the Crown has an obligation to take our representations seriously. Our legal concept of living together is not based on dominance and submission. It’s based on negotiation and mutual respect. They must now do that.
They have a duty to consult the People, not their own illegal Indian Act band councils. They have to take what we want into account. They have to respect our boundaries.
All in all, the court was awfully quiet. Maybe they have come to realize that this situation is serious. They just can’t push us around the way they thought they could.
MNN Mohawk Nation News
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Check out the Dare to Dream program at http://www.daretodreamprogram.ca/index_e.htm - The Dare to Dream Program provides an opportunity for youth (18 years of age and under) to get involved in mental health awareness activities. If you can come up with a creative idea for a project, then we want to support you to make this happen. Successful applicants are awarded $1000 to do a project that promotes mental health awareness.
"Save culture, save lives,"say Aboriginal youth - Nishnawbe Aski Nation youth talk about the suicide epidemic in their communities and what they’re doing about it. Read the report
HANSARD- ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY- JUNE 21, 2006
Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora–Rainy River): To the Acting Premier. The Mikisew decision of the Supreme Court of Canada last November clearly requires governments to consult and accommodate First Nations prior to allowing resource development activities on First Nation traditional lands that could impact First Nation treaty right.
Yet members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug are being forced to come here to protest and are being sued for $10 billion by a mineral exploration company, Platinex, because the McGuinty government failed to fulfill its duty to consult and accommodate the First Nation.
My question is this: When will the McGuinty government live up to your constitutional and legal responsibilities and accommodate First Nation rights to consultation and accommodation instead of forcing them into the courts?
Hon. George Smitherman (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): To the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs.
Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): As a result of those Supreme Court decisions cited by the leader of the third party, the government of Ontario took an internal exercise with all ministries, working with all the lawyers in all the ministries to bring an interpretation forward as to what the responsibilities resulting from this court decision would be with each ministry in its responsibility to consult with First Nations on all the various aspects involving treaty and aboriginal rights.
We have completed that exercise internally and are about to engage the First Nations leadership in Ontario to get some agreement as to what those protocols should be in all the areas that affect their lives. So what we want to do is get some agreement as to whatever the issue, whatever the project, so that we have a set of protocols established and agreed to ahead of time, as that’s the way we need to consult with First Nations people.
Mr. Hampton: I want to get this straight: You have a constitutional and legal responsibility recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. You now admit that you have not yet even produced the guidelines for consultation and accommodation, yet the McGuinty government gave a permit to the mining company to go into the traditional lands of this First Nation. It sounds to me, by definition, like the McGuinty government is it already in breach of its constitutional and legal responsibilities, and as a result of that the First Nation has to pay the price: They’re getting sued for $10 billion.
After you finish with your speeches and your platitudes, when are you going to do something about your own breach of your constitutional and legal responsibilities with respect to this and other First Nations?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I would say that we’re not in breach at all, because we have the duty to consult on these protocols, and that’s what we’re about to do. We’re not about to just impose them upon First Nations and say, “This is now how we’re going to consult in the future”; we are going to engage in a dialogue to make sure we are on the right track and make sure they agree that these are the protocols we need to adopt.
That’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to do that consultation with First Nations people instead of imposing upon them, as this party would probably want to do.
HANSARD- ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY- MAY 29, 2006
Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question is for the minister responsible for native affairs. Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninnuwug First Nation has told your government that they are opposed to mining exploration and mining development within their traditional territory. But the McGuinty government has encouraged Platinex Inc. to pursue mining exploration and mining development, even though the first nation has said no. Now the First Nation has been forced to sue the McGuinty government because of your failure to honestly and openly consult with it.
The Mikisew Supreme Court decision says that you must honestly, honourably and openly consult with First Nations before you attempt to approve mining development in First Nations traditional territory. My question: When will the McGuinty government live up to its legal and constitutional responsibility with respect to this First Nation, instead of forcing them to go to court to get you to observe --
The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Thank you.
Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): To the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
Hon. Rick Bartolucci (Minister of Northern Development and Mines): The member opposite is right; there has been an action launched. So obviously, as a former Attorney General, he would know that it is inappropriate for us to comment on the particular case before the courts.
Let me tell you that this ministry and this government recognize the crown's obligation to respect and honour the aboriginal and treaty rights of communities, and that communities have a right to be appropriately consulted. There's absolutely no question that the Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal Affairs has drawn up those guidelines, and each ministry will certainly draw up protocols. We're very, very proud of what our government is doing with regard to our duty to consult, and we will live by those Supreme Court decisions.
Mr. Hampton: I just want to read part of the decision to you. It says the crown's duty to consult says that you have to, "ensure that the representations of First Nations are seriously considered and, wherever possible, demonstrably integrated into the proposed plan of action."
Imagine the surprise of this First Nation and other First Nations when they heard you on the radio saying, on May 10, "As we speak, those guidelines are being developed, and as we speak, those protocols are being put in place." But the First Nations have hand-delivered to you and to your deputy their part, their views. You have not only ignored them, you have failed to respond.
Is that what the McGuinty government calls honest and open consultation according to constitutional law, when you ignore the very First Nations, and then go on radio and say, "Oh, it's all happening"?
Hon. Mr. Bartolucci: The member across has a very, very creative interpretation of reality. I want to tell you that the Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal Affairs is drawing up these guidelines. Each ministry will be responsible for protocols. I am very, very confident that our ministry will have and will continue to live up to the decision of the Supreme Court. If the member had read the Ontario mineral development strategy, he would know that we are committed to that type of consultation, and we will continue to be committed to that type of consultation.
HANSARD-ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY MAY 9, 2006
Mr. Howard Hampton (MPP, Kenora-Rainy River) Premier, the Kitchenuhmaykoosib First Nation is being sued for over $10 billion by Platinex, a mineral exploration company, because the First Nation has acted to protect their traditional territory. This First Nation is a remote fly-in community of 1,200 people; 80% of the people are unemployed. They're poor. Yet this mining company is going to sue them for $10 billion because the community has dared to stand up and defend their own traditional territory. The chief has asked me to ask you this question: Will you intervene on the side of the First Nation in this vexatious lawsuit?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
Hon. Rick Bartolucci (Minister of Northern Development and Mines): We certainly take this issue very seriously. The member would know that my ministry staff have been in contact with both the First Nation community and the company. We were hoping for some type of resolution. It appears, at this point in time, that the company will be taking the First Nation to court. It would be inappropriate for us to comment on this as it could be the subject of a legal matter.
Mr. Hampton: Here's the great irony. This court case is due to be heard on June 21 -- National Aboriginal Day.
Premier, it was your government that issued the permit to this mining company. The First Nation said, "Look, we object to any kind of mineral exploration taking place in our territory." They explained that to officials of your government. Since that date, they have not heard a word from your government.
Now, Caledonia is a situation where your government ignored all the warning signs. Here you've got a remote First Nation; there are no non-aboriginal people who live anywhere near it. They're saying to your government, "Do not promote this kind of conflict. Do not issue these kinds of permits when you know the First Nation is opposed and when you haven't consulted with the First Nation." They're simply asking you, since you created this problem by giving the mining company the permit in the first place, will you now intervene on the side of the First Nation and help them defend their traditional rights and their traditional land, or do you want to see a more serious conflict here?
Hon. Mr. Bartolucci: To be perfectly honest with the member who's asking the question -- and he certainly knows that our ministry has been in constant contact with the First Nations community. Because it is a matter that's before the courts, we're not --
Hon. Mr. Bartolucci: The member would know that ministry staff have visited the community to hear the concerns of the First Nations people. He would also know that mining claims and leases are valid under the Mining Act. Certainly it's the view of this ministry that we want to work with both sides to try to come to some resolution before these matters end up in the courts. We will continue to do that, as we will continue to honour our commitments that we must live up to under the Supreme Court decision, which says that we have a duty to consult. We take that very seriously.
HANSARD- ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY- APRIL 24, 2006
Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question is to the minister of aboriginal affairs. Minister, the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, otherwise known as Big Trout First Nation, has indicated that they are opposed to the Platinex mining exploration company operating on the traditional territory of the First Nation. Yet when the First Nation members protested and picketed this mining exploration company, the McGuinty government's response was to send in the OPP. The First Nation is asking the McGuinty government now, will you tell Platinex mining exploration company not to operate on the traditional territory of the First Nation until your government starts to meet its responsibilities to the First Nation under the Mikisew Supreme Court of Canada decision?
Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): I refer that to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
Hon. Rick Bartolucci (Minister of Northern Development and Mines): As with the earlier case that was discussed, our ministry remains in contact with the community, and we will continue that contact and that dialogue. Certainly I'm not going to debate what actions are going to be used or what actions aren't going to be used at this point in time, but clearly that dialogue between my ministry staff and the First Nations community is an ongoing one.
HAnsard-Ontario Legislative Assembly- March 1, 2006
Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora–Rainy River): My question is for the Premier. Premier, one year ago, with much fanfare and self-congratulation, your government announced a new approach to aboriginal affairs. You said, “Our new approach calls for working with aboriginal people.”
Recently, the chief in council of the Big Trout Lake First Nation informed your government officials that they were opposed to a mining exploration company conducting drilling operations in the First Nation’s traditional territories without your government first consulting with the First Nation. Instead of your government consulting with the people of Big Trout Lake First Nation, you gave the mining exploration company the go-ahead to begin drilling in the First Nation’s traditional lands, and when the people of the First Nation protested this, you sent in the OPP.
Premier, can you tell aboriginal people across this province what happened to your promise to work with aboriginal people, what happened to your specific promise to respect and observe your legal obligations in respect of aboriginal peoples?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): To the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
Hon. Rick Bartolucci (Minister of Northern Development and Mines): In incidents like this, it is always good to ensure that the facts that are given are facts that can be substantiated. Let me tell you that my ministry has been in contact with both the First Nations community and the company in question. We are very happy that the company has chosen to vacate the site and that police levels have returned to normal.
Mr. Hampton: This is not about the company. This is about your promise to consult with First Nations. This is about the Mikisew Supreme Court of Canada decision, which says that before you’re going to build a winter road on traditional First Nation territory, before allowing a mining company access to their traditional territory, you must consult with the First Nation about their legitimate interests and rights. You didn’t consult with the First Nation. You simply gave this mining company the go-ahead to go into their traditional territory and start drilling. When people protested, in go the OPP.
I’ll tell you, Minister, a chief of NAN and the chief of Big Trout Lake First Nation want to know when the McGuinty government is going to start observing the law of Canada as set down by the Supreme Court of Canada? When are you going to start observing the promise that you specifically made a year ago to First Nations to respect not only their constitutional rights, their treaty rights and their legal rights…
The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): The question’s been asked. The Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
Hon. Mr. Bartolucci: There’s absolutely no question that our government is committed through the Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal Affairs, to meet our legal obligations with the duty to consult. Ontario is preparing draft consultation guidelines to assist ministries in fulfilling that consultation, and that’s being done through the minister responsible and through OSAA.
Let me tell you that when it comes to mining issues, we’ve very clearly spelled out in our mineral development strategy that the duty to consult will be lived up to as to the Mikisew Supreme Court ruling.