By Marlene Bilous
RAMA – Anishinabek Nation leaders are demanding to be active participants in all mining-related activities on their territories, not just those involving precious metals.
Chief Roland Monague, Beausoleil First Nation, emphasized the importance of the value of aggregate to economic development and environmental stewardship
at a Mining/Aggregate Workshop for the Southeast and Southwest Regions on May 29th.
“We need industry and government to recognize the value of aggregate to our First Nations. The extraction of limestone to meet the needs for aggregate in Southern Ontario affects our surface and ground water and our rights. Our areas are the only pristine places left and we’re fighting to keep our land and protect our rights. We need to meet to strategize on issues that will plague us over the next few years.”
The Union of Ontario Indians held the workshop to address the five major options for First Nations to work with mining and aggregate companies: partnerships; impact benefit agreements; joint ventures; equity positions; and becoming proponents.
Peter Recollet, Wahnapitae FN, and Peter Crocker of Miller Paving Ltd. presented on the various options and discussed their experiences in how First Nations could work effectively with industry in developing resources on traditional territories.
Councillor Keith Knott, Curve Lake FN, pointed out that Ontario has granted nearly 20 aggregate permits in the northeastern part of Treaty 20 territory without any consultation with the First Nation.
“The Crown must acknowledge and respect Curve Lake First Nation’s rights to provide for its families and assert our treaty rights. First Nations need to press Ontario to update the Aggregate Resources Act and require that we be consulted and have our Treaty and Aboriginal rights protected before aggregate permits and licences are granted.”
The Anishinabek Southeastern Region Chiefs agreed to write a letter to the Legislative Committee reporting on amending the Aggregate Resources Act requesting that Section 35 rights be protected and that they be consulted and accommodated prior to Ontario granting permits and licences. They also agreed to present their views to the Ministers involved and request changes based on their recommendations.
Marlene Bilous is Mining Policy Analyst for the Lands and Resources department of the Union of Ontario Indians