First Nations leaders involved in two Canadian mining projects say their communities “finally have a voice” since Canada’s implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP) came into force almost a year ago.
“UNDRIP opens a lot of doors,” Chief Theresa Nelson of Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek First Nation, the lead negotiator with the Greenstone Gold project in Northern Ontario, told a panel at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention in downtown Toronto on Monday.
Construction of the mine has been ongoing, with drilling and blasting within the site set to occur regularly in the following months. Nelson said the government initially excluded and did not recognize her community, which is 15 minutes away from the site, as being impacted by the project, but “UNDRIP gives a chance of inclusion and input to our lands.”
The UN declaration, which received Royal assent in Canada on June 21, 2021, affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, their language, culture and traditional lands, while also spelling out the need for free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from Indigenous people on anything that infringes on their lands or rights.