Commentary: Aboriginal Peoples score 200 legal wins in Canada’s resources sector – by Bill Gallagher (Northern Miner – March 4, 2015)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

Pipelines, energy exports, fracking, clear-cuts, tailings ponds and access to resources are daily in the news as the industry faces pushback on traditional lands from natives who feel that their way of life is threatened. But what’s different now is that the tone of the dialogue is changing — and not necessarily for the better.

For example, here is a quote from Northern News of Gino Chitaroni, president of the Northern Prospectors Association, recently speaking in Kirkland Lake, Ont.: “We are now at a crossroads, where our whole industry and way of life is completely threatened … the empowerment of First Nations at the expense of the mining and exploration industry … this is a massive sleeper problem that nobody wants to talk about in the press, because those who do may be targeted for reprisals and branded bigots and racists.”

We’ve seen a lot of court-bashing in the Canadian media from think tanks, former politicos and a former media tycoon. But the fact is that the native legal winning streak has rolled out in a highly consistent fashion. Indeed, it’s the courts themselves that have promoted the need for constructive dialogue for over 15 years now, based on the poignant closing in Delgamuukw, wherein the Supreme Court admonished one and all by writing: “Let us face it: we are all here to stay.”

Unfortunately, resource-centric governments have continued to do their talking in the court, with devastating results. Because today, after amassing 200 legal wins (I’ve been keeping track), Aboriginal Peoples are well on their way to redrawing the map of Canada not only at the resource sector’s expense, but also at the expense of the national economy.

Here are five reasons why Canadians should care about this trend, and have that long overdue discussion on access to resources.

1. Aboriginal Peoples as ‘Resource Rulers’ — In regions of Canada with significant aboriginal populations, there will now be little resource development without Aboriginal Peoples wholly onside. It’s unfortunate that the rise of native empowerment has gone so completely unacknowledged in the corridors of power, because all this has been happening in plain sight, and with predictable regularity.

Canadians now need to appreciate the power consequences of living in a country with an emerging class of resource gatekeepers whom I call “Resource Rulers.” Yet rarely do corner-office denizens acknowledge their existence, lest they be associated with having “lost one” somewhere in the hinterland. Thus the legal drumbeat continues.

For the rest of this article, click here: