Northern Ontario First Nation Facing $10 Billion Lawsuit for Blockading Platinex Mining Exploration

From Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Four people from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug are walking from Pickle Lake, Ontario, to the Provincial Parliament at Queen’s Park to raise awareness of ongoing mining disputes in their traditional territory.

The group of walkers – all from KI – are hoping to raise awareness of the failure of the Government of Ontario to update the Mining Act to include recent Supreme Court rulings, including Mikisew (November 2005), that resulted in a $10 billion lawsuit against KI for protecting traditional territory during a peaceful protest that stopped Platinex Mining early March 2006.

Mark T. Anderson, Darryl Sainnawap, Wallace Mosquito, and Dylan Morris began their journey to Queen’s Park in Pickle Lake, ON May 9, 2006. The group that walks between 50 and 70km per day travelled through Thunder Bay May 21st and are currently in the Nipigon area.

They expect to reach Toronto by June 21st – National Aboriginal Day – to bring their message to the Ontario Legislature.

“We want our children and grandchildren to continue to use the lands and resources to pursue their usual vocations of hunting, trapping, and fishing,” said Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug community member Mark T. Anderson who’s leading the group to Toronto.

“We want to protect the environment at the potential drilling/mining site plus the surrounding area which includes our Kitchnuhmaykoosib Lake.”

The $10 billion damage claim by Platinex is the largest ever against a First Nation and would take KI 200 years to pay. The case will be heard in Thunder Bay June 22, 2006.

In February 2006, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (Big Trout Lake) First Nation blockaded a winter road that provided access by Platinex – a junior mining company – to their traditional lands. They say their inherent right to decide what happens on their lands has been violated by the Ontario government which granted the mining claims.

On April 19, 2006, the company filed a motion with the Ontario Superior Court in Thunder Bay asking for an injunction against the blockade and damages of $10 billion.

The case was to be heard on June 21 – the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer, but was later changed to June 23 when the First Nation objected.

This case is important for Aboriginal peoples across the country. It is at the moment of staking the claim that the “Third Party” interest is created on indigenous lands.

Up-to-date information on the court case and the courageous stand of the First Nation may be found on their website at Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (Big Trout Lake) First Nation

This is the latest development in a moratorium on mining on their traditional territories that was declared by four First Nations in October. Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Muskrat Dam, Wapekeka and Wawakapewin issued the moratorium after a meeting to discuss a diamond mining company's request to access their traditional lands. Deer Lake First Nation joined later.

"What is contained in my land is a non-renewable resource," says Kitchenuhmaykoosib Chief Donnie Morris, "once it is taken out it is gone forever."

Platinex is a penny stock junior company with no other properties. The mineral resources have not yet been estimated by a qualified person, and the company is surviving on focused flow through share offerings. The company Management Discussion and Analysis says the company is "presently [sic] trying to acquire a letter of support from the Band."

"The communities have provided a clear direction to governments and mining companies like De Beers, Kennecott, Platinex and Superior Diamonds on this troublesome issue," says Muskrat Dam Chief Vernon Morris. Says Chief Morris, "What part of NO doesn't the Ontario government understand?"

The recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Mikisew, makes it clear that government has to protect the rights of First Nations to consultation and accommodation even when they have existing treaties.

For more information, contact:
Spokesman John Cutfeet, Kichenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug 807-537-2263
Chief Norman Brown, Wapekeka First Nation 807-537-2315
Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Nishnawbe Aski Nation 807-623-8228

To see a map of where these First Nations are located consult the attached map. (PDF, 756 KB)

See also the attached news release from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation: "NAN Supports Protection of K.I. Lands" (PDF, 100 KB)