For generations, Grassy Narrows residents have used the land for hunting. Now, it’s in the middle of a lawsuit between Canadian mining corporations – by Morgan Bocknek (Toronto Star – December 12, 2022)

Ontario has created a mess by granting mining claims on land Grassy Narrows aims to make protected Indigenous territory, First Nation’s leaders say.

Barrick Gold Corp. is embroiled in a $100-million lawsuit against two junior mining companies, as an exploration deal between the firms fell apart over a decision to pause work to respect a First Nations’ opposition to mining on what it calls territorial land.

In recent court filings, Barrick says when it first signed on to conduct exploratory drilling in a swath of land 90 kilometres north of Kenora, it was unaware of the importance of the land to Grassy Narrows First Nation. The company says it wanted to first obtain consent before proceeding with its search for gold.

In response, Barrick claims in its lawsuit, the two firms it partnered with — Red Lake Gold and Dixie Gold — are trying to terminate their mining exploration agreement. Those two firms, meanwhile, accuse Barrick of breaching their joint venture agreement and say they intend to fight the legal action.

To current and former Grassy Narrows leaders, this industry fight is just the latest illustration of the mess Ontario has created by granting mining claims on land that the First Nation has told government officials it is trying to protect. It is where residents hunt moose, pick berries and camp.

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