Archive | Aboriginal and Inuit Non-Mining Issues

Website launches for marine conservation project in James Bay – by Dariya Baiguzhiyeva (Timmins Today – March 9, 2021)

Wildlands League has launched a website that provides more information about the Mushkegowuk Marine Project.

Last October, Mushkegowuk chiefs approved a motion to have nation-to-nation talks with the federal government about establishing a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) to protect the marine ecosystem in western James Bay and southern Hudson Bay.

The website shows infographics, information about establishing the NMCA and a promotional video featuring Adrian Sutherland’s James Bay track. Continue Reading →

A year after Wet’suwet’en crisis, First Nations’ questions about self-governance have only grown louder in a pandemic – by Wendy Stueck and Brent Jang (Globe and Mail – February 23, 2021)

Three small cabins stand next to Lamprey Creek in northern British Columbia, built by Wet’suwet’en Nation members and their supporters over the past year.

The structures occupy the site of a former Indigenous village site where Wet’suwet’en people lived and fished for centuries before the area became a recreation site for campers and anglers, according to Molly Wickham, a member of the nation whose hereditary name is Sleydo’.

But the site is also close to spots where, one year ago, RCMP officers arrested protesters challenging the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Continue Reading →

Mary River mine needs a railway to survive, new economic report says – by Jim Bell (Nunatsiaq News – February 8, 2021)


Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River mine is unlikely to survive without a railway to carry greater quantities of ore to Milne Inlet, says a report commissioned by the company.

The report, titled Mary River Project Economics Explained, was submitted to the Nunavut Impact Review Board this month during its public hearing on Baffinland’s expansion proposal for the Mary River mine, which adjourned Feb. 6 and is to resume in March.

The company filed the economic report in response to an earlier economic analysis done for the Oceans North conservation group by a firm called OpenOil, which said Baffinland’s existing truck route is capable of making a profit for the company. Continue Reading →

After evacuating twice over tainted water, Neskantaga residents plan their return home – by Olivia Stefanovich (CBC News Politics – December 17, 2020)

Members of a First Nation that has been under a boil-water advisory for longer than any other in Canada are hoping to return home before Christmas to clean running water for the first time in 25 years.

Neskantaga, accessible only by air and an ice road in winter, sits about 450 km north of Thunder Bay, Ont. — where nearly 300 of its members have been living in a hotel since an oily sheen in the reserve’s reservoir on Oct. 19 triggered their evacuation.

Now, final tests are taking place to determine whether Neskantaga’s water is safe enough for the community to use, weeks after members originally were scheduled to fly back and two years after the reserve’s water treatment plant was supposed to start producing clean drinking water. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Canada needs to dig deep and find the national will to fix the water crisis – by Tanya Talaga (Globe and Mail – December 4, 2020)

The last time I saw Neskantaga First Nation Chief Chris Moonias was during a visit to his community, 430 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. I had just toured Neskantaga’s broken-down water filtration plant, which was in need of a new 600-pound pump.

Engineers and work crews were busy all along the shores of Attawapiskat Lake, installing the pump in an effort to resolve the longest boil-water advisory of any reserve in Canada.

Almost the entire community, meanwhile, had been evacuated to Thunder Bay. A few kind souls stayed behind to look after the dogs. Continue Reading →

Thunder Bay Indigenous Population Far Larger Than Thought? – by James Murray ( – November 30, 2020)

Thunder Bay – Data released from a survey focused on Indigenous adults’ and children’s experiences with the health care system in Thunder Bay show communities deeply rooted in their cultural traditions and identities, while facing several systemic barriers that adversely impact their health and wellbeing.

The survey found that the size of the Indigenous population in the Thunder Bay CMA is far larger than the previous figures released by Census Canada. The survey results summarized in a set fact sheets, calculated the size of the FNIM adult population of Thunder Bay to be 29,778 (estimated range is 23,080-42,641).

These survey number are more than three times higher than the FNIM population size estimate of 9,780 reported by the 2016 census, which most FNIM in Thunder Bay reported they did not complete. Also highlighted are the strong ties that FNIM peoples in Thunder Bay have to their histories, traditions, and cultural identities. Continue Reading →

Stuck in a hotel during a Christmas pandemic, Neskantaga members wait for water crisis to end – by Olivia Stefanovich (CBC New Politics – December 2, 2020)

Nine-year-old Bedahbun ‘Bee’ Moonias can’t bring herself to drink the running water in her Thunder Bay, Ont., hotel room. “Since we can’t drink the tap water back in Neskantaga, I’m scared to use the tap water here to drink it,” Moonias said. “So I use water bottles.”

Moonias has spent her whole life worrying about the water flowing from her faucets back home in Neskantaga First Nation, a remote fly-in Ontario community about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

Neskantaga has the longest-duration boil water advisory of any reserve in the country — 25 years and counting. “Sometimes, I feel like we don’t exist,” Moonias said. “Like, nobody knows that we don’t have no clean water. Like, we’re just ghosts and we’re just put in a drawer, in a box.” Continue Reading →

Ottawa replaces federal bureaucrat working with Neskantaga First Nation during state of emergency – by Olivia Stefanovich (CBC News – November 23, 2020)

Indigenous Services Canada has replaced the top federal bureaucrat working with Neskantaga First Nation, which has the longest boil water advisory in the country, during its current state of emergency at the community’s request.

Assistant deputy minister Joanne Wilkinson has taken over from Ontario regional director general Anne Scotton as the liaison between department officials and Neskantaga, a fly-in community about 450 km north of Thunder Bay, Ont.

“Joanne has significant experience in regional operations and is well placed to leverage the resources necessary to complete this work,” senior assistant deputy minister Lynda Clairmont wrote in an email to Chief Chris Moonias late Monday. Continue Reading →

Feds invest $841k to support climate change adaptation in northern Indigenous communities – by Colleen Romaniuk (Sudbury Star – November 13, 2020)

The federal government will invest more than $841,000 in a project that will help Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario deal with climate change.

Co-led by Laurentian University, Grand Council Treaty 3, and the Tribal Councils of Mushkegowuk, Matawa, Nokiiwin, Shibogama, and Keewaytinook Okimakanak, the project aims to facilitate knowledge exchange and collaboration in Far North communities.

Partners have been engaging in knowledge-sharing workshops, sharing tools, and establishing an Indigenous regional knowledge exchange network as part of the project. Continue Reading →

Left behind in Neskantaga and exiled in Thunder Bay, a nation still waits for clean water at home – by Willow Fiddler (Globe and Mail – November 12, 2020)

On a table in the corner of the banquet room of a Thunder Bay hotel sits a collection of posters with hand-written messages like “Shame on you #Trudeau” and “We deserve clean water.” They were drawn by children from Neskantaga First Nation, pleading for safe, clean tap water to drink – a basic human right no one under the age of 25 has had in the remote Northern Ontario community.

Neskantaga Chief Chris Moonias says if it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic, he’d be on his way to Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park with the posters to show the governments how living under the longest-standing boil water advisory in the country has affected his community.

Residents have to rely on bottled water for drinking. For cooking and bathing, they have to fill up jugs and pails at an outdoor reverse-osmosis system that sits in a shed up a hill. Continue Reading →


THUNDER BAY, ON – The nine (9) First Nations making up the Matawa Chiefs Council today offered their support for Neskantaga First Nation as they experience another large blow to their water treatment and distribution system amid a 26-year lack of clean drinking water crisis and in a global pandemic.

They offer their support for the extraordinary measures Neskantaga First Nation have had to take to ensure the safety of their citizens including an evacuation to Thunder Bay for the second time within the span of 12 months (first one in September 2019) due to unsafe drinking water, and this time, a complete water outage, in their community.

A majority of the First Nations of the Matawa Chiefs Council, both road-access and remote, have experienced similar issues with regards to access to clean drinking water. With the exception of two (2) First Nations who have the opportunity to access municipal water treatment systems—all have experienced either ‘boil water’ or ‘do not consume’ advisories, for a lengthy period of time at some point in history. Continue Reading →

Mining consultations continue even as water stops flowing for Neskantaga First Nation – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – October 28, 2020)

Consultation on the environmental assessment for a road to mineral deposit in northern Ontario will proceed even as one of the First Nations affected has been emptied out by an emergency.

Neskantaga First Nation was evacuated last week after the community water supply was shut down when an oily substance was discovered in the reservoir. Nearly all of its 300 residents are staying in hotels, about 450 kilometres away, in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Meanwhile, consultations on the terms of reference that will set the stage for environmental assessment on a mining supply road through Neskantaga’s traditional territory continue. Ontario has a constitutional duty to consult First Nations when their treaty rights may be impacted. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Troubled water: The slow drip of change in Attawapiskat is not and has never been enough – by Adrian Sutherland (Globe and Mail – July 30, 2020)

Adrian Sutherland is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, and the frontman and founder of roots-rock band Midnight Shine. He lives in Attawapiskat, on the remote coast of the James Bay.

It’s been one year since the water contamination crisis in my home community of Attawapiskat.

In July, 2019, the Attawapiskat Band Council notified residents that our tap water had tested positive for potentially harmful levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) – byproducts of the disinfection process created when chlorine interacts with high levels of organic materials.

We were told not to bathe in it, not to cook with it and not to inhale vapours from it. A state of emergency was declared. This is our tap water that flows into our houses. It’s important to note we do not drink from our taps – and never have. Continue Reading →

Ginoogaming First Nation Chief Celia Echum won back land owed to her community – by Willow Fiddler (Globe and Mail – June 18, 2020)

At 5 foot 2, Ginoogaming First Nation Chief Celia Echum was below average in height. But despite her diminutive size, she held enormous influence in her community.

In 2016, Ms. Echum initiated a claim seeking compensation for land that Ginoogaming was entitled to under Treaty No. 9 but did not receive. Once settled, the claim will see the Anishinaabe community in northwestern Ontario gain almost 25 per cent more land.

Peter Rasevych, one of Ms. Echum’s nephews from Ginoogaming, was a boy when his Aunty Celia, as she was known to many, began serving the people of Ginoogaming. She received her community health representative (CHR) certificate from Laurentian University in the late 1970s. Continue Reading →

Court rules in favour of Robinson Huron Treaty beneficiaries – by James Hopkin (Soo Today – June 28, 2020)

Justice Patricia Hennessey has ruled in favour of Robinson Huron Treaty beneficiaries in the second phase of a lawsuit launched by 21 First Nations against the federal and provincial governments over treaty annuity payments.

Hennessy ruled in December 2018 during phase one of the hearings that both Canada and Ontario had failed to live up to its obligations to increase annuity payments over time as mineral and forestry resources were being developed. The annual treaty payment – which currently sees each beneficiary receive $4 annually – hasn’t increased since 1874.

“This century-old dispute between the federal and provincial Crowns is one of the reasons why no increase has been made to the annuities for over 150 years,” said Hennessy in the phase two decision. Continue Reading →