(Ottawa) MiningWatch Canada was alarmed to learn today that Cap-Ex Ventures Ltd. (Cap-Ex), a Vancouver-based junior, has proceeded with exploration activities in direct violation of agreements made with the Innu of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam (ITUM) who have made considerable efforts to engage with the company and reach an agreement for exploration to proceed on their traditional territory.
The ITUM territory is also an active iron ore mining district known as the Labrador Trough. Located along the Labrador-Quebec Border the territory has suffered considerable impacts from past mining activities with many areas of devastated land that have never been rehabilitated. In recent years an exploration and mining rush has forced ITUM to take a strong position in defending their territory from further unacceptable impacts and to ensure their rights to consultation, accommodation and consent of mining activities have been respected. Their efforts have included blocking access to a company in July 2010 to force them to the negotiation table.
ITUM asserts aboriginal rights, including title, and treaty rights with respect to the lands that Cap-Ex has registered its claims on. The Innu continue to use the area of Cap-Ex’s claims, including for hunting, fishing, and gathering. A portion of the claims lie within an area along the Howells River that is of particular concern because it is still pristine and considered sacred to the Innu. After ITUM participated in a rushed consultation meeting in Montreal on June 24th (St. Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec) to accommodate Cap-Ex, an agreement between Cap-Ex and ITUM was reached and the required consultation report sent to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, resulting in the government issuing permits for exploration activities.
Since that time Cap-Ex has proceeded with exploration activities in areas of concern without consulting ITUM – in direct violation of the agreement reached on June 24th – and has told ITUM that there is in fact no agreement in place. In response, ITUM will request that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador revoke Cap-Ex’s permits. ITUM is committed to ensuring their lands and rights are not violated by this company.
Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator of MiningWatch, commented on the situation saying, “The behavior of Cap-Ex is offensive to values of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence that Canadians have committed to through the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Cap-Ex’s shareholders should be very concerned that their investments are being put at risk by this type of out-dated and irresponsible approach to exploration in the ITUM territory.”
MiningWatch will continue to follow the developments and provide logistical and communications support to ITUM in their efforts to protect their land and rights.
Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada – 613-569-3439
Georges-Ernest Grégoire, ITUM Chief – 416-666-0207