Deal With Ontario Aboriginal Groups or No Deal? – by Marilyn Scales

Deal or no deal? – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The long-simmering dispute between Frontenac Ventures of Oakville, Ontario, and the native bands with claims on a stretch of wilderness north of Sharbot Lake is settled. Or is it?

This is cottage country, picturesque and serene. Frontenac wants to explore what is known as the Robertsville property for uranium. Several Aboriginal bands protested and blockaded the area early in 2008. They have unsettled land claims, and they demand a say in how the lands is to be used. The province of Ontario mediated the dispute, and a deal appears to have been hashed out.

On Dec. 1, interested parties met for an hour in the Frontenac County Courthouse to finalize the agreement they had reached. The deal has been called “historic” because it covers consultation and accommodation of Aboriginal values and environmental protection on the part of the mineral exploration industry.

The deal finalized earlier this week involves Frontenac Ventures and the Shabot Obaadjiwan, the Snimikobi Algonquins and the Algonquins of Ontario. Therein lies the rub. It does not include the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, which also lays claim to the area. Readers will remember that former Ardoch chief Robert Lovelace was jailed earlier this year for his part in the protests.

So a settlement has been reached, but not reached with everyone. Reportedly, the province has not responded to the Ardoch Algonquin’s request six weeks ago that negotiations with the band be reopened. I suspect the band will continue its quest, but not at the expense of sending any more members to jail, I hope.