FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Friday, July 22, 2011
Barriere Lake Algonquins celebrate mining company’s decision to suspend exploration in their territory: Charest’s turn to act, community says
(Kitiganik, Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory) – The Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake is celebrating the recent decision of Cartier Resources Inc. to suspend the Rivière Doré copper mining project in their traditional territory in north-western Quebec, after the community expressed their overwhelming opposition to exploration activities and a potential mine these activities could lead to.
“The community applauds Cartier Resources for respecting our wishes that no mining exploration and drilling proceed. The company is setting an important precedent by not moving ahead without the free, prior and informed consent of the community, a right recognized by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson for Barriere Lake.
President and CEO of Cartier Resources Philippe Cloutier stated in a release that the suspension shows the company’s “respect for stakeholders in this area.” Cartier's Rivière Doré exploration project is within an area already covered by an agreement signed between Quebec and Canada and the First Nation in 1991. This Trilateral Agreement – a sustainable development plan for 10,000 square kilometres of Barriere Lake’s traditional territory – has been praised by the United Nations, but both Quebec and Canada have refused to implement it.
Mining exploration was halted in March, when contract workers complied with requests by community members to leave the exploration site. In May, Barriere Lake’s Elders Council issued a letter to the Quebec Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife and the CEO of Cartier Resources pledging that the community would peacefully block any resource extraction like mining on their traditional territory until the Trilateral Agreement is implemented. Community members then travelled to Montreal to speak at the company's annual general meeting, where they reiterated their opposition to the mine. In June, community members camped out on the exploration site to stop test drilling from proceeding. On the company's request Quebec has now suspended the term of Cartier Resource's 1,052 mineral claims in the territory until July 3rd 2013. No exploration activity can take place on the claims during this time.
“We call on the Quebec government to follow Cartier Resources’ lead by withdrawing any mineral claims in the entire area of the Trilateral Agreement until they have implemented the Trilateral Agreement. If Premier Jean Charest is committed to sustainable development and a just relationship with First Nations, this should be his natural next step,” said Matchewan.
"Cartier Resources is to be congratulated on its decision to respect the right of the Algonquin to consent to activities in their territory," added Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada. "This, however, was a voluntary decision by the company that points out Quebec's failure to work with the Algonquin and other First Nations such as the Innu and Mohawk to develop a protocol for consultation and consent of mining activities in their territories.”
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Norman Matchewan, community spokesperson: 819-215-0741
Michel Thusky, community spokesperson: 819-435-2171
Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada: 613-569-3439