(TORONTO) A group of four community members from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (Big Trout Lake) who've walked over 2000 km since May 9, 2006 delivered a message to the Government of Ontario regarding ongoing mining disputes in their traditional territory during a news conference today at Queen's Park.
"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 led the group of walkers from Pickle Lake to Toronto. "We want to protect the environment at the potential drilling/mining site plus the surrounding area which includes our Kitchenuhmaykoosib Lake."
Despite a community declared moratorium on resource development since 1998 and Supreme Court of Canada rulings to consult and accommodate with First Nations prior to resource development, Platinex exploration company received permission from the Government of Ontario to start drilling on Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug traditional territory located 603 km north of Thunder Bay in February 2006.
Mark T. Anderson, Darryl Sainnawap, Wallace Moskotaywenene, and Dylan Morris began their journey to Queen's Park in Pickle Lake, Ontario May 9, 2006.
The group of walkers - all from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug - are raising awareness of the failure of the Government of Ontario to update the Mining Act in light of recent Supreme Court rulings, including Mikisew (November 2005). Ontario's failure to implement the rulings of the Supreme Court of Canada has resulted in a $10 billion lawsuit against Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug for protecting traditional territory during a peaceful protest that stopped Platinex's drilling at the end of February 2006.
"Both Premier McGuinty and Prime Minister Harper talk about enforcing the rule of law as First Peoples stand up for their land rights - rights that are entrenched in the Constitution, the highest law of the land," said Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug spokesperson John Cutfeet. "Both governments, however, fail to enforce this Constitutional Law. Either they are selectivein which laws they enforce, or they are intentionally ignoring Constitutional Law. In any case, it is not a flattering position for any government."
The $10 billion damage claim by Platinex is the largest ever against a First Nation and would take Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug 200 years to pay. The case will be heard June 22, 2006 in Thunder Bay, ON.
NOTES TO EDITORS
In documents filed with the Ontario Securities Commission, Platinex reported that Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug registered its written opposition to the Platinex project as early as 1998.
In May 2000, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug filed a land claim with the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. The land claim could potentially include all areas in the immediate Kitchenumaykoosib Inninuwug territory including the disputed area.
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug again issued a general moratorium on resource development in its traditional territory in 2000 and reaffirmed that moratorium in October 2005.
On October 27, 2005, four 4 Far North First Nations, including Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, declared a joint moratorium on resource development in their territory.
In February 2006, Platinex commenced exploration activities in direct contravention of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug moratorium.
On February 23, 2006, 23 Sioux Lookout Zone Chiefs passed a resolution
requesting that that Platinex cease and desist their activities in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug territory.
Following a peaceful Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug protest, Platinex vacated their exploration camp.
The O.P.P. were present throughout the peaceful community protest. No arrests were necessary and none were made.
On May 1, 2006, Platinex filed a $10 Billion lawsuit against Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug seeking to create a "treaty rights free zone" around their mining claims.
Documents filed by Platinex with the court revealed that an ex-British paratrooper, now working for a private security firm, had been retained by Platinex and was present at the mining camp during the events of February 2006.
On May 9, 2006, a group of four Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug community members (Mark T. Anderson, Darryl Sainnawap, Wallace Moskotaywenene, and Dylan Morris) began an awareness walk to protect the land in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug territory. They walked from Pickle Lake, ON to Queen's Park, a distance of approximately 2100km and will arrive on National Aboriginal Day, June 21st.
On May 23, 2006, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug filed a countersuit against Platinex and put the province of Ontario on notice that they will issuing a third party claim against the government.
Ontario has been put on notice of the claim brought by Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug that the Mining Act regime should be struck down as unconstitutional for breach of Aboriginal and treaty rights.
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug signed the 1929 Adhesion to Treaty 9 with Canada and Ontario.
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug is a remote fly-in community of 1550 members, located on Big Trout Lake, 603 km. northwest of Thunder Bay Ontario.
The injunction hearing will be heard in Thunder Bay this week at the Camelot St. courthouse on Thursday, June 22, and Friday, June 23, 2006.
For further information: John Cutfeet, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Spokesperson, (807) 627-9062