An Ontario First Nation chief is asserting that consultation with the Anishinabek Nation is required before changes are made to the Ontario Mining Act.
Isadore Day, Lake Huron regional grand chief, made the statement in a press release after the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines posted regulatory proposals for the second phase of new regulations under the Mining Act on the province’s Environmental Registry.
Ministry officials provided leadership of the Anishinabek Union, which represents 39 communities in Ontario, with a written request to comment on the proposed regulations via the Environmental Registry by May 1, 2012.
However, First Nations assert they have a right to be consulted on a nation-to-nation basis on mining legislation that affects their treaty territories, and Day suggested the submission of comments to the Environmental Registry does not meet that standard.
“More than ever, the level of dialogue with First Nations is critical,” said Day, who is the lands portfolio holder for the Anishinabek Nation. “Our government-to-government discussions must match the dire need for clear and fair consultation with our First Nations and promote a clear and fair treaty right to sharing in the resource-based economy."
The proposed regulations also state that proponents and prospectors will be compensated for their consultation expenses. As there is no comparable reference to First Nations compensation, the Anishinabek Nation requests that the Ministry address this inequitable distribution of financial resources for consultation capacity, according to the release.
“It is incumbent upon the ministry to ensure that assigning a directive to developers to consult First Nations in the development process should in no way erode our rights at the government table,” Day said in the release. “The province must maintain its role as a treaty partner and accommodate a process that is consistent to Anishinabek goals and values."