(Kitiganik, Algonquin Territory/September 12, 2016) Last week our Chief and Council adopted the attached resolution opposing any mining activities (staking, exploration, development) within our ancestral (and current-use) Trilateral Agreement Territory and demanding the reinstatement of the mining moratorium, which had been in place since 2011.
Since time immemorial, our First Nation has used and occupied our lands for the pursuit of traditional activities, managing the lands and resources, as part of our way of life, on the basis of conservation and harmony with Mother Earth. However, impacts from flooding, logging and wildlife depletion, in the last 125 years have devastated the lands and resources and disrupted our traditional way of life.
To overcome these impacts and to maintain our traditional way of life and to improve the management of the lands and resources for the benefit of all, our First Nation encouraged the Governments of Canada and Quebec to cooperate in a partnership in developing a conservation strategy based on the principles of sustainable development as expressed in the 1987 Report of the U.N. Committee on Environment and Development (Brundtland Report).
In good faith, our First Nation signed a Trilateral Agreement with Canada and Quebec on August 22, 1991 to promote sustainable development of renewable resources and the reconciliation of resource uses by our Algonquin Peoples’ and non-Algonquin people within the territory identified by the Trilateral Agreement, which is our ancestral (and current-use) territory.
Despite some disagreements, our First Nation and Quebec came to an agreement on the Trilateral Agreement approach and process, which led to a Bilateral Agreement on May 22, 1998, for undertaking negotiations on co-management of natural resources and resource revenue sharing among other issues, under the Trilateral Agreement between our First Nation and Quebec.
In 2006, we came very close to a long-term agreement with Quebec, which unfortunately failed because Quebec refused to accept even a very small share of revenue-sharing on our ancestral Territory on behalf of our Algonquin Peoples’. However, negotiations resumed in 2015, and if the current mining problem hadn’t become an issue we had been hopeful of reaching a mutually-beneficial agreement with Quebec.
In June 2016, while our Council was negotiating a Draft Agreement with Quebec to implement the 1991 and 1998 Agreements the Quebec government stealthily lifted the moratorium on mining on our ancestral (and current-use) Trilateral Agreement Territory, which had been in force since 2011.
The moratorium on mining activities was lifted unilaterally by the Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources without any prior advice to, or consultation with, our Algonquin Peoples’ as directed by the Supreme Court of Canada in recent case-law.
In August, 2016, representatives of our Algonquin Peoples’ had specifically asked for confirmation from the Special Representative of Quebec, Mr. Mario Gibeault, that no mining activities were contemplated on the Seaman forestry sector located on our ancestral (and current-use) Trilateral Agreement Territory, and had obtained written confirmation on August 6, 2016, that no mining activities were contemplated;
As a result of the lifting of the moratorium, the mining company Copper One announced immediately after that it was preparing to start mining activities on our ancestral (and current-use) Trilateral Agreement Territory;
Mining activities are completely incompatible with both the terms and intent of the Trilateral Agreement of 1991, the Bilateral Agreement of 1998, and the 2006 Recommendations flowing therefrom, which is to ensure the continuation of our Algonquin Peoples’ traditional activities and the sustainable use of renewable resources, the very reason the moratorium was imposed five years ago, paradoxically the mining activities contemplated would take place within Quebec’s largest Wildlife Reserve.
Our Algonquin Peoples’ have forcefully and consistently voiced our opposition to mining activities on our ancestral (and current-use) Trilateral Agreement Territory. As such, no mining activity (staking, exploration or development) will be accepted on our ancestral (and current-use) Trilateral Agreement Territory.
Chief Casey Ratt stated “We have written the Quebec Premier and the relevant Ministers demanding that the lands within our ancestral Territory be withdrawn from staking and other mineral activity by the Minister, and that the existing mining claims be cancelled. We know the Quebec Mining Act provides authority for the Minister to restrict mining activities within our ancestral Territory and to cancel any existing mining claims in the territory.”
Councillor Norman Matchewan added “Our Algonquin Peoples’ are monitoring on the land for any sign of mining activities and if any mining exploration operations are found we will take all necessary but peaceful measures to protect our waters, lands and wildlife.”