Legal battle brewing in northern Ontario over the protection of Indigenous sacred areas, mining rights – by Logan Turner (CBC News Thunder Bay – July 3, 2021)

Province, prospectors argue First Nation didn’t fully participate in consultations

As the mining industry heats up in northwestern Ontario, a First Nation in Treaty 9 territory has applied for an injunction to stop mineral exploration and protect a sacred area within their traditional territory.

It’s a case that some say would set a precedent in Canada, establishing the inherent and treaty right of First Nations to protect sacred areas.

Ginoogaming First Nation considers Wiisinin Zaahgi’igan, an area of land roughly 360 square kilometres in size located about 300 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, its “breadbasket, its church, its heartland, its graveyard and its hospital,” according to documents filed by their lawyers.

Since time immemorial, the people of Ginoogaming have hunted, gathered, performed ceremony, buried ancestors and healed in the territory; but mining exploration activities threaten the area, said Victor Chapais, a councillor and former chief of Ginoogaming.

“If somebody comes in and destroys Wiisinin Zaahgi’igan, it’ll never be the same. There will always be damage to it — damage to Mother Earth — and those are the kind of things that we’re trying to protect,” Chapais told CBC News in an interview.

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