Bartolucci calls for co-operation [between juniors and First Nations] – by Sebastein Perth (Sudbury Star – November 10, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

In light of allegations of racism and lack of co-operation levelled this week between the Wahgoshig First Nation and a mining company, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci on Friday urged “the mineral exploration industry to encourage its membership” to comply with regulations.

In a statement, the minister of Northern Development and Mines, said more than 100 “mineral development benefit agreements have been signed between aboriginal communities and industry” since 1999.

Bartolucci said the provincial government has to walk a fine line between economic prosperity and respecting aboriginal rights.

“Our government is responsible for managing Crown lands and the natural resources of this province. In so doing, we must balance the need to promote economic development and our thriving mineral exploration and development sector with our commitment to meeting our constitutional obligations to aboriginal peoples,” Bartolucci said.

He said the province introduced the second phase of its “modernized Mining Act regulations” that provides aim to make rules and regulations clearer.

It will also provide “progressive guidance about aboriginal consultation as it relates to mineral exploration activities” for industry and aboriginal communities.

This week, leaders with the Wahgoshig First Nation called a press conference in Sudbury to accuse some officials of acting in a racist way and of ignoring their treaty rights in exploring for minerals.

They are especially critical of Solid Gold Resources, which has made a high grade gold discovery near Lake Abitibi in 2011.

The root of the dispute can perhaps be traced back to a 2004 Supreme Court of Canada decision that said the crown had a “duty to consult” with native groups when an activity had the potential to affect treaty rights.

Bartolucci, however, said industry groups, individual companies and First Nations communities have a role to play in reaching agreements that benefit all parties.

“It is our hope that the mineral exploration industry will encourage its membership to act in compliance with the new regulations, while engaging with aboriginal communities in a co-operative and respectful way that builds positive relationships,” he said.

“This way, we will continue to see both Aboriginal communities and our mineral exploration and development industry benefit and thrive for decades to come.”

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