‘Complexities’ surrounding ‘duty to consult’ not addressed, First Nations leaders say
First Nations leaders in northern Ontario say new mining regulations that go into effect Nov. 1 don’t go far enough. The updated mining act makes changes to early exploration requirements to help minimize the impact on the environment.
It also includes some new rules about consulting with First Nations, and a plan to better protect sites of Aboriginal cultural significance. But Lake Huron Regional Chief Isadore Day said First Nations are still concerned about the consultation process.
“It’s very clear that … it didn’t go deep enough to look at the complexities that have to do with the duty to consult,” he said. The executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association said the province will inform First Nations if a claim is staked in traditional territory and put the mining company in contact with the correct person to consult.
“It’s always been a challenge to find the right person in the community to talk with,” Garry Clark said. “It’d be good because then we wouldn’t be exploring there and harming anything that has significance to the First Nations,” Clark said.
Chief Day said he’s spoken with mines minister Rick Bartolucci about his concerns and said discussions with the province about the new mining regulations are ongoing.
The Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation agrees the new changes to the mining act don’t go far enough. Harvey Yesno said as long as Ontario’s free entry system is in place, there will be conflicts.
“It’s contributing, we believe, to the problems that industry is encountering with First Nations,” he said.
Free entry allows prospectors to stake mineral claims on land, even when they don’t own the surface rights.
Yesno noted that government, not industry, should be the first to engage First Nations in consultation.
For an interview with NAN Grand Chief Harvey Yesno, please go to the CBC Radio Sudbury website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/story/2012/10/05/sby-mining-act-changes.html