Fort Severn demands halt to [Ontario MNDM] aerial surveying – by Shawn Bell (Wawatay News – January 29, 2013)

Fort Severn Cree Nation has demanded that Ontario halt ongoing aerial geologic surveying of Fort Severn’s traditional lands.

The First Nation issued a letter to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) on Jan. 25, requesting that aerial surveying stop immediately. Fort Severn said it was revoking its prior consent to the surveying.

Fort Severn cited Idle No More and the hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence in explaining the need for unity with other First Nations.

“We believe it is imperative to take this step to ensure our community stands in unity with other First Nations and our organization across Ontario and Canada as we struggle to establish meaningful nation-to-nation relationships with all governments interested in working with our traditional lands,” Fort Severn Cree Nation wrote in the letter.

The First Nation also attached a list of the demands made in the declaration signed by Spence and other leaders on Jan. 24.

Aerial surveying is done through the Ontario Geologic Survey, a branch of MNDM. The surveying around Fort Severn is a continuation of last year’s aerial surveying around Weenusk First Nation, as the OGS is attempting to survey the shore of Hudson Bay for the first time since the 1960s.

The Weenusk surveying, however, has not yet been released following a conflict between Weenusk First Nation and the OGS over a lack of consultation on the plans.

Julia Bennett, spokesperson with MNDM, told Wawatay that the ministry received Fort Severn’s letter on Jan. 25 and immediately contacted the contractor doing the work to stop the surveying.

Bennett said the ministry is now in contact with Fort Severn leadership to determine the next steps in regards to the surveying.