Wahgoshig First Nation is going to court on December 1, 2011 to seek an urgent injunction to immediately stop drilling operations in a sacred area of Wahgoshig’s traditional territory. The area is immediately adjacent to the Wahgoshig reserve and is known to contain burial grounds as well as other archaeological sites. It is also an area frequented by Wahgoshig community members for hunting, trapping, fishing, medicine gathering, and ceremonial activities.
Solid Gold Resources Corp. is a mining exploration company based near Toronto, Ontario. Wahgoshig community members discovered Solid Gold operating in its territory in the spring of this year. Since that time Wahgoshig has continuously voiced its concerns to Solid Gold about the potential impacts to its traditional territory and rights. Wahgoshig has repeatedly requested that Solid Gold stop drilling and meet to discuss how to ensure the protection of these lands and its culture. These requests have been largely ignored.
Only after urging by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development Mines and Forestry (MNDM) did Solid Gold meet with Wahgoshig – once – in early November. At that meeting, Solid Gold president Darryl Stretch refused to cease drilling even temporarily and refused to undertake any archaeological or land-use studies to identify and protect sacred sites. MNDM then demanded that Solid Gold immediately cease its operations, stating that consultation with Wahgoshig has been inadequate. In spite of this, Solid Gold brazenly continues to drill and bulldoze land that is rich with archaeological and cultural heritage sites and values.
“The Crown has demanded that Solid Gold stop, and Solid Gold won’t listen; Wahgoshig has demanded that Solid Gold stop, and Solid Gold won’t listen to us”, expressed Wahgoshig First Nation Chief David Babin. “Now it’s fallen on our shoulders to take on the risk and expense of going to court to defend our rights, our culture and our ancestors’ burial grounds. This isn’t the way that business works anymore; we have agreements with other companies that work well for everyone involved, but Solid Gold thinks it can just plough over our rights and our community’s values. Because Solid Gold has not listened or shown any respect, we must rely on the court to show the company that First Nations have rights that must be respected. Solid Gold appears to be making matters even worse as it is now moving a second drill rig in to the area; it is disrespectful of our rights. This is not the way for Solid Gold to succeed in First Nations territory.”
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For further information please contact:
Chief David Babin: Cell – 705-262-2770, Office – 705-273-2055 (ext. 29)
Kate Kempton (Legal Counsel): Cell – 416-571-6775, Office – 416-981-9374