In front of the International Convention, Trade Show and Investors Exchange Mining Investment Show
at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, a group of several dozen activists, protesters and First Nations individuals gathered in protest of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty allowing God’s Lake Resources (GLR)
to go ahead with its mining activities on Native land.
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI)
is a community that is about 580 km (360 miles) north of Thunder Bay, Ontario and is close to nearly 74,000 acres. It is one of the largest First Nations communities in the province with a population of more than 1,300.
Band councillors, KI residents and officials, activists and environmental groups stated Tuesday that they are quite concerned over GLR’s plans to institute a 3,000-metre drill program on the land where many of the Native inhabitants say their ancestors are buried.
Demonstration organizers are hoping that Tuesday’s event will draw public awareness and support for their cause. Many sported anti-mining signs, handed out flyers that contained information and shouted, “What part of no don’t you understand?” to GLR and the provincial government.
“I know today we’re here to say that we [KI] are still against mining, we still say no to mining, we still want to defend our lands, we still want to defend our ancestors on official resting grounds and hunting grounds,” said KI Band Councillor Cecilia Begg
. “We’re still asking the government to recognize we are a nation and we have a government and we have indigenous laws.”
Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Sid Ryan told the crowd that the OFL “stands in solidarity with the KI nation” in their resistance against Premier Dalton McGuinty and Queen’s Park.
“We have a strong message to deliver today to the premier of this province and to Bartolucci: Keep in mind that when previous governments that went out to sacred lands of indigenous people of this country you didn’t like the outcome of what happened in those situations,” stated Ryan.
At the end of the rally, the protesters began a flash mob where they danced – waving their index finger and mimicking shovelling.
Ontario Government’s Response
Over the weekend, the Ontario government issued a press release
in which they stated that 23,000 square kilometres of KI land will be removed from future mining claims. The provincial leaders stated that they will respect the First Nation’s urgency of a moratorium on mining activity on the land.
“KI asserts jurisdiction over the land and has asked for a moratorium on mineral exploration and development,” stated Adrian Kupesic, a spokesperson for Ontario Mining Minister Rick Bartolucci, in the release.
“The Ontario Government has made several attempts to facilitate communication between KI and God's Lake Resources (GLR), a junior mineral exploration company that holds a mining lease and mining claims in the vicinity of KI, north of Red Lake in Northwestern Ontario. “
However, the GLR gold mining drilling project will not be affected by the new restrictions and will continue with its project.
This isn’t the first time that KI leaders and residents have protested mining on their land. KI Chief Donny Morris and five other leaders were imprisoned after protesting Platinex’s mining activities
Several demonstrations were held in front of the Ontario Legislature, across the province and around Canada in 2009. Many sent out letters to McGuinty, which went unanswered for a period of time.
The provincial government later made the decision to buy out Platinex’s mining claims and paid the junior mining company approximately $5 million to vacate the area.