July 30, 2012 11:49 pm
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Toronto, ON – Matawa First Nations, and Neskantaga, one of its member Nations, have recently issued major legal challenges to halt developments taking place in their traditional territories.

On June 20, 2012, the Matawa First Nations Council, which represents 10 member First Nations, passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on all forms of mining and exploration until the Government of Ontario has initiated an environmental review process that will allow the full and effective participation of all the affected First Nations. Furthermore, it demanded proper government to government negotiations to discuss compensation for the adverse affects mining will have on their communities and traditional territory.

Last week, Neskantaga intervened in a dispute between Cliff Natural Resources and junior mining company KWG Resources over a 340 kilometre road that will run through their traditional territory to a chromite mine on the other side. In a petition to the Ontario Land and Mining Commissioner, the First Nation stated that they had not been properly informed of the project and did not consent to the road’s construction.

Both projects affect the Attawapiskat watershed. Without proper development, various pollutants from mining and construction processes could flow into the watershed causing great harm to the surrounding communities.

“When a First Nation’s right to free, prior, and informed consent is ignored the consequences are devastating” said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy. “I support Matawa First Nations and its member Nation, Neskantaga, in their recent legal challenges and ask the provincial government to reconsider the position it has taken in these disputes.”

At the 38th Annual All Ontario Chiefs Conference, the Chiefs in Assembly passed Resolution 12/11 which formally supported Matawa First Nations, asking for the federal and provincial governments and industry, to negotiate with the First Nation based on their right to free, prior and informed consent.

Free, prior and informed consent was formally enshrined as an international legal standard when the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007. Canada endorsed the declaration on November 12, 2010.

For more information, please contact:

Andre Morriseau
Media Relations
Phone: (416) 580-9720
Email: andre@coo.org

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