Call on Premier Charest to Stop Injustices Towards First Nations Before Conflicts Arise
(Kipawa, Quebec/Algonquin Territory, August 22, 2011) Last week, the Algonquin First Nations of Eagle Village and Wolf Lake sent a letter to Premier Charest indicating their rejection of the current Quebec Mining Act and Bill 14, a bill that proposes to modify the Act.
In the letter, Chief Madeleine Paul of Eagle Village and Chief Harry St. Denis of Wolf Lake indicated their objections to the current system of allocating mineral claims, authorizing exploration and granting mining rights to minerals found on their traditional territories, where the two First Nations assert Aboriginal title and rights.
The lack of any serious effort to engage the two Algonquin First Nations in consultation about the needed changes to the mining act have forced these two First Nations to reject Bill 14 and indicate their intention to take necessary actions to defend their rights should the Bill be passed without addressing their concerns.
The Chiefs’ letter states that “[w]ithout an agreed upon process for addressing our Aboriginal Rights and Title, mineral development activities in our territory are likely to result in increasing tension and conflict between mining companies, Quebec and our Algonquin peoples.” Bill 14 only vaguely acknowledges the need for Aboriginal consultation “depending on the circumstances”. Moreover, Bill 14 has been developed without any consultation with the Algonquins and does not address many of their concerns with the current system of allocating mining rights.
Located south of the established mining camp of Val D’Or, the two First Nations do not have a history of mining. This has changed in recent years and there are currently 2,442 mineral claims, consisting of 1,412 km², and several companies have been conducting exploration and developing rare earth elements, copper and gold projects within their traditional territories. Of these, Matamec Explorations Inc.’s Kipawa Rare Earth Elements Project is the most advanced. Some of the other companies active in the area include Entreprise Minière Globex, Fieldex, Hinterland Metals Inc., Mines Aurizon Ltée, and Visible Gold.
Chiefs Paul and St. Denis have requested that Premier Charest have his Minister conduct a proper process for meaningful consultation with First Nations on the necessary reforms to the Quebec Mining Act. The consultation process should be consistent with Quebec’s duty to consult and accommodate First Nations and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which provides that development occurring on the territories of Indigenous Peoples should have the Free Prior Informed Consent of the affected Indigenous Peoples.
For more information contact:
- Chief Madeleine Paul: office: (819) 627-3455
- Chief Harry St. Denis: office (819) 627-3628