(Val d'Or, Québec) Meeting this morning at a press conference at Val d'Or, the Algonquin Nations are uniting their voices to denounce the Quebec Mining Act and the impacts that it causes on their territorial and Aboriginal rights. The Algonquins are asking the Government of Quebec to review the foundations of the law, which they believe are unconstitutional.
"We face, even today, mining claims and mining projects for which we were never informed, consulted and never gave our consent," said Chief Casey Ratt of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake First Nation, who called the press conference.
"We support viable development of our territory, but we want to be able to make choices that respect our rights and meet our needs, our expectations, and our values. The current Mining Act is preventing us from doing that," added the Chief Lance Haymond of Kebaowek First Nation (Eagle Village).
According to Chief Harry St-Denis of Wolf Lake First Nation, "The Quebec government is responsible for ensuring that its laws and mining policies respect constitutional rights of Aboriginal Nations. Quebec’s Mining Act still fails this test in 2017."
The Algonquin First Nations are particularly critical of the Mining Act’s lack of any obligation to inform or to consult indigenous nations before the Government grants mineral claims on their traditional territories. The law also fails to require permits or consultation for the vast majority of mining exploration work, including drilling, mechanical trenching, and other use of heavy equipment. The Mining Act does not allow integrated land use planning in respect of indigenous peoples’ rights and aspirations, including the possibility of saying 'no' to mining claims located in culturally or ecologically sensitive areas.
In two presentations delivered this morning at Val d'Or, professors Jean-Paul Lacasse and Sophie Thériault of the Faculty of Law of University of Ottawa have been clear: the current Mines Act would not pass a constitutional legal test, if it were to be challenged by an Aborigoinal nations in Quebec. The solution would require a change in the law and in the meantime, the suspension and/or the takeover of mining titles in sensitive areas, or until agreements are reached with affected Aboriginal nations.
Mr. Clifford Lincoln, former Quebec’s Environment Minister and special representative for the Algonquin Nation of Barriere Lake, makes a similar point, considering that it would be more responsible for the Government of Quebec to take a path of reconciliation and agreements with Aboriginal Nations, rather than a path of continuous denial (see Mr. Lincoln’s video – English version available soon).
While the government announced its “intention” to “temporarily” suspend the claims of Copper One on the territory of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake on January 26th, the long term scenario remains uncertain. The Algonquin Nation, located largely within the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, asks for public support in order to protect their culture, the land, the waters and the wildlife, which are all interconnected.
The Algonquin of Barriere Lake Nation held a day of information and awareness yesterday, January 25, with the participation of around 25 individuals and civil society organizations including: Greenpeace Quebec, Amnesty International Canada, Ligue des droits et libertés du Québec, Coalition Québec Meilleure Mine, MiningWatch Canada, Action Boréal de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Regroupement vigilance sur les mines en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and the Conseil régional de l’environnement de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
Sign the petition before February 10, 2017: https://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-6379/index.html
Support the Alonquins of Barriere Lake: http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org/p/t.html
Support statement from the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec & Labrador: http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/the-afnql-supports-the-algonquin-nation-communities-who-denounce-the-quebec-mining-act-611903515.html
Support statement from opposition party Quebec Solidaire: http://www.fil-information.gouv.qc.ca/Pages/Article.aspx?idArticle=2501267899
Quebec Government’s reaction the same day, announcing their ‘intention’ to suspend Copper One’s mining claims: http://www.fil-information.gouv.qc.ca/Pages/Article.aspx?aiguillage=ajd&type=1&idArticle=2501261419
Copper One’s reaction the next day, announcing their ‘intention’ to seek legal remedies if they are prevented from accessing their mining claims (likely against the Quebec government, and possibly against the Algonquins of Barriere Lake…): http://copperone.com/news/news-display/index.php?&content_id=147
For more information:
- Chef Casey Ratt (English), Algonquin Nation of Barrière Lake, 819-441-8002
- Chef Lance Haymond (English), Algonquin Nation of Kebaowek (Eagle Village), 819-627-6884
- Chef Harry St-Denis (English), Algonquin Nation of Wolf Lake, cell. 819-627-3628
- Clifford Lincoln (Français/English), former Quebec cabinet ministre and special representative of the Algonquin Nation of Barrière Lake, 514-441-9446
- Tony Wawatie (Français/English), Algonquin Nation of Barrière Lake, 819-355-3662
- Michel Thusky (Français), Algonquin Nation of Barrière Lake, 819-215-0591
- Jean-Paul Lacasse, Law Faculty, University of Ottawa, 819-210-1435
- Sophie Thériault, Law Faculty, University of Ottawa, [email protected]
- Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch Canada & Coalition Québec meilleure mine, 514-708-0134
- Radio-Canada: http://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1013214/les-algonquins-de-lac-barriere-denoncent-lactivite-miniere-sur-leur-territoire-et-la-loi-sur-les-mines
- Radio-Canada (provincial radio): http://ici.radio-canada.ca/emissions/l_heure_du_monde/2016-2017/archives.asp?date=2017/01/26&indTime=2466&idmedia=7668976
- Radio-Canada (regional radio): http://ici.radio-canada.ca/emissions/region_zero_8/2016-2017/archives.asp?date=2017/01/26&indTime=4080&idmedia=7668907
- Journal de Montréal : http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2017/01/26/pret-a-tout-pour-bloquer-une-mine
- Le Devoir :http://m.ledevoir.com/article-490250
- TVA (RNC): http://www.tvaabitibi.ca/articles/20170126113834/communaute_algonquine_nentend_pas_laisser_faire.html
- Journal Écho-Abitibien: http://www.lechoabitibien.ca/actualites/politique/2017/1/26/lac-barriere--la-pression-monte-sur-quebec-et-la-resistance-s-or.html
- Le Devoir www.ledevoir.com/societe/actualites-en-societe/485180/lac-barriere-l-assaut-des-minieres
- Radio-Canada http://www.rcinet.ca/fr/2016/11/21/congres-quebec-mines-priorite-au-respect-des-droits-des-autochtones/
- L’Écho Abitibien www.lechoabitibien.ca/actualites/politique/2016/10/11/opposition-a-un-projet-minier-dans-la-reserve-la-verendrye.html
- Statement in Quebec’s Legislative Assembly, Nov. 22 2016 (Michel Thusky, 5:45min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9vBHLW0g-I&feature=youtu.be