Indigenous peoples have been stewarding their lands and waters for millennia, and there is increasing legal recognition that Indigenous and treaty rights must be a fundamental consideration in how such lands are governed.
Yet, under Ontario’s online prospecting system, anyone can register a mining claim on Indigenous territories for a paltry $50 per parcel — without ever visiting the territory, let alone having obtained the consent of the Indigenous people who live there.
Ontario insists that under provincial mining regulations, it can award mining claims and permit mining exploration and extraction against the will of Indigenous communities.
This speaks to the Ontario government’s shameful disregard for Indigenous rights, and its wilful dismissal of international agreements and Canada’s reconciliation mandate. Canada signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2016.
This international agreement upholds Indigenous peoples’ collective rights, including their governance over traditional lands and waters, and requires free, prior and informed consent for activities happening in them.