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Grand chief comments on new rules

Sharing the benefits

Camp at Iamgold’s Côté Lake project, 170 kilometres northwest of Sudbury.

Where do the First Nations stand on the amendments to the Mining Act and the new regulations? Nishnawbe Aski Nation grand chief Harvey Yesno couldn’t be reached for comment, but made the following remarks in a recent column made available to Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal:

“It is the duty of the Crown – the governments of Canada and Ontario – to ensure that First Nations treaty and aboriginal rights, as well as the duty to consult – are addressed.

The current approach encouraged by both governments – for industry to be responsible for undertaking the requirement to address treaty and aboriginal rights, and the duty to consult with First Nations – is not acceptable.

“This approach places potential partners in an adversarial position to grapple and attempt to negotiate the very same legal requirements the government has until this day – failed to implement….

“What do First Nations want from resource development within our treaty territories? First Nations want what is fair and equitable. No more, no less.

“Our treaty partners, Canada and Ontario, have it within their power to level the playing field and ensure that economic growth includes First Nations. A meaningful way for the governments of Canada and Ontario to recognize their treaty obligations is resource revenue sharing. Resource revenue sharing would mean more to First Nations and the dignity of our people than any impact benefit agreement.

“The 49 Chiefs of Nishnawbe Aski Nation each have a vision of the future for their communities. First Nations are invested in Northern Ontario permanently. The desire for our communities to succeed in business and provide a better future for our people is one of the most urgent pressures facing most chiefs today.

“The result of true partnership and the test of our treaties – Canada, Ontario, First Nations and industry working together – will be what we call ‘Implementation of the Treaty’; living together here on this land as what was intended for all of us – to share in the benefits, and prosper together.”

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