Anishinabek Nation leader Isadore Day said First Nations “can and will” play a valuable role in resource extraction in Ontario and the discussion with the government needs to start on recognizing and respecting treaty rights and traditional territory.
Day said the withdrawal of Cliffs Resources from the Ring of Fire chromite development in the James Bay lowlands spotlights the need for clear guidelines to be established to respect the rights of First Nations as full partners in resource-based activity on their traditional lands.
"Sixty per cent of mining resources in Ontario are located on our traditional territories,” said Day in a Dec. 6 statement. “If Ontario and mining companies want to proceed with development, meaningful inclusion of First Nations could promote certainty, stability and access.”
Day, who serves as chief of the Serpent River First Nation, holds the lands and resources portfolio for the Anishinabek Leadership Council, and serves as Lake Huron regional chief for the Anishinabek Nation, a confederacy of 39 First Nations in Ontario.
"We want to be full partners in resource development and we request our fair share of the resource wealth extracted from our lands. Last year the value of production in mining was $11 billion and it is high time that Ontario and Canada recognized our rights to our resources.”
Chief Day emphasized that First Nation rights take precedence over the rights of municipalities and other interest groups.
"We need to have our treaties implemented and we intend to hold the government accountable. The Robinson Huron Treaty was signed almost 200 years ago and the promises and commitments made to us have not been kept. Now is the time for a change.”