Ontario’s mine permit approvals spark renewed protests from Indigenous groups

In November, the Ontario government approved new mining permits in the Kanesatake area of Quebec. The government said the permits, which will allow mining in the peat-rich Six Nations reserve, were needed to upgrade the area’s antiquated water infrastructure. But First Nations along the Red Earth Trail had concerns. In 2013, the Anishinabek Nation sued the Ontario government for an improper mining review and told Reuters they had “already invested over $42 million on improvements.”

“They’re not going to get another dime,” Stephen Ouimet, grand chief of the Anishinabek Nation, told Reuters last year.

Frustrated by the delays in permitting changes that the council had implemented to better protect the environment, the governor of the Red Earth Trail, Cole Porter, authorized removal of some of the moose hide lining the mining roads in 2019. That kicked off a push from First Nations groups to have the permits put back on hold and to have the money that they were using for improvements returned.

Less than 24 hours after Porter’s announcement, the Ontario government issued a message saying that the new permits would not be delayed, a move that angered First Nations.

It’s not the first time the government has bungled negotiations with First Nations. Earlier this year, New Brunswick dismantled a controversial agreement with the community of Kitigan Zibi and Ottawa resolved a lawsuit between the First Nation and Anishinabek Nation — actions that made Ottawa appear inept in moving forward on First Nations issues.

“What we are seeing is a government that was in an incredibly bad spot in that in some ways they seemed to want to be dealing with these issues but they ended up punting them and entering into some of the actual set-piece conflicts with First Nations over the past couple of months,” Reeve Fred Desjarlais said to the Canadian Press.

Read the full story at The Huffington Post and the Globe and Mail.

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