The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
Mining companies looking to work on First Nations territory should be better educated about native rights to prevent some of the racist treatment First Nations leaders charge their members have had to endure.
Dave Babin, chief of the Wahgoshig First Nation north of Kirkland Lake, singled out one company, and its president in particular, for criticism during a press conference in Sudbury on Wednesday.
Solid Gold Corporation president Darryl Stretch faced an injunction in January to stop his company from drilling near Lake Abitibi, while he consulted with the Wahgoshig First Nation.
In a Globe and Mail interview published in March, Stretch said the First Nation wanted him to pay $100,000 for a study to see if his company’s drilling went over any burial grounds.
“It’s not my obligation to go find arrowheads for those people, period,” he told the Globe. “If they don’t like you, you don’t work. What kind of deal is that? Because I didn’t do it right, the way the Indians wanted me to? Because I didn’t give them money? Because I didn’t beg them for permission to go? It’s just ridiculous, the whole concept.”
That “whole concept” Stretch could be referring to is a 2004 judgment from the Supreme Court of Canada that said a provincial or the federal government has a “duty to consult” First Nations about work they want to do on a band’s territory.
Governments are allowed to pass that “duty to consult” along to natural resource companies looking to operate on band land, the court rules.
However, Babin told a news conference many other companies have signed deals with the Wahgoshig First Nation without any problems.
“We haven’t had issues with anybody else. We’ve had other companies contacting us saying they want to work with First Nations, they are learning the rules coming in. They seem to understand our issues. We’re willing to work with them. We’ve proven that with the many companies on our territory,” Babin said.
He said he wants to see an education process in place for companies and their employees who want to work on First Nations territory.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2012/11/08/miners-racist-natives-charge