“We have determined that 60 per cent of mining resources in Ontario are located on our traditional lands,” says Lake Huron Regional Chief Isadore Day, Windawtegowinini. “Currently we receive no taxes or benefits from mining on our traditional to treaty territories. Municipalities get 15-22 per cent of the taxation mining revenue and we get nothing.”
Last year Ontario received $147 million from its 10 per cent mining tax, Chief Day told participants in a mining workshop attended by Chiefs and leaders from Lake Huron Regional First Nations.
Chief Day says that First Nations in Ontario should also get their fair share of procurement contracts and jobs related to mining activity on their traditional territories.
“The typical mine in Ontario spends 44 per cent of its annual sales on procurement. This represents a huge opportunity for us. Right now only 10 per cent of mining jobs are held by our people.”
Chief Day, Serpent River First Nation, reminded participants that Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution guarantees existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights and defines them to include “rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired”.
He said the 1850 Robinson Huron Treaty recognized that First Nations had mineral rights in their territory, “…and should the said Chiefs and their respective Tribes at any time desire to dispose of any mineral or other valuable production thereon, the same will be will be sold or leased at their request…for their sole benefit, and to their best advantage.”
“First Nations must take the lead and have a say in what happens in their traditional and treaty territories,” he said. “I’m calling on my fellow treaty Chiefs; it’s time to formally assemble, design and organize our interests as a treaty organization specific to issues like mining.
“Far too long has the mining industry and the Crown not been held to task on treaty obligations. We must develop a secretariat, respond and enforce the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850.”