Update - August 6, 2013: The request for a joint review panel has been refused. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is proceeding with a standard environmental assessment with no public hearings and much less accountability.
Local citizens, regional and provincial NGOs are now calling on Quebec to fill the gap calling for a provincial hearing through the "BAPE" (Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement).
There is also a petition online related to the project and a facebook group. Stay tuned for updates.
Joint review panel is needed for proposed rare earths mine
The Algonquin First Nations of Wolf Lake and Eagle Village are calling on Peter Kent to work with them to establish a joint review panel to examine a proposed rare earths mine in their traditional territory.
The First Nations are invoking an as-yet unused section of the new federal law for environmental assessment (CEAA 2012). The Act gives the Minister of the Environment the authority to establish a joint review panel in order to harmonize the federal process with other jurisdictions – including First Nations.
The proposed mine raises a long list of concerns. Rare earths are essential parts of many modern technologies but their extraction and processing has resulted in extensive contamination in the US and in China where most of the minerals are mined.
Only a joint review panel will assure a more rigorous and participatory process. The Algonquin First Nations are insisting on public hearings, an independent body to evaluate the project, and an active role in determining the terms of reference and guidelines for the process – the hallmarks of a joint review panel.
Today Wolf Lake and Eagle village issued a press release about their demand. Their letter to Kent, which includes an overview of their environmental concerns can be found here.
Please show your support for the Algonquin First Nations' right to a meaningful role in the environmental assessment process by writing to Minister Kent as well.
Send your letter or comment to:
E-mail: [email protected] (please CC [email protected])
Fax: (613) 992.0887
Postal address: 401 Confederation Building, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Minister Kent,
I am concerned about the proposed Kipawa Rare Earths Project in the territory of Wolf Lake and Eagle Village Algonquin First Nations.
This project has the potential for significant adverse effects to the water, fish, wildlife and human uses of the area and must be reviewed in the most rigorous and participatory way possible. The review must also be consistent with Canadian law on the duty to consult and accommodate and Canada’s international obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
To meet these commitments Canada must accept in good faith the Algonquin First Nations offer to harmonize their review process with Canada in a joint review panel.
I fully endorse the First Nations call for a joint review panel for the Kipawa Project.