Chiefs Call Foul on Manitoba Mines Branch Permitting and Licensing


Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak – Southern Chiefs’ Organization Release

Date of publication: 
26 April 2013

Winnipeg, MB – Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and Southern Chiefs’ Organization have joined forces to combat Manitoba’s failure to fulfill their legal duty to consult, accommodate and obtain the full, informed and prior consent of First Nations prior to issuing work permits, mining licenses and other authorizations to companies in First Nation traditional territories. In collusion with the mining industry and other resource companies, the province is skirting the legal duty to consult and obtain consent from the First Nations. On many occasions the province has unlawfully issued permits, licenses and other land dispositions which constitute a breach of constitutionally protected Aboriginal and Treaty rights. Due to mounting frustration, First Nations inManitoba will stop the provincial blockade against their traditional economies by declaring moratoriums on resource development on their traditional territories. First Nation “Stop Work Orders” on mine development are now being posted and will be enforced.

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs stated, “The Manitoba Chiefs are beginning to implement the treaty relationship in the ancestral lands that we did not surrender for free and unencumbered corporate exploitation. To implement treaty, First Nation leaders and communities are rejecting policies and laws that are intent on maintaining our poverty and dependency on an impoverished and one-sided relationship. Our people are no longer willing to accept status quo and tearing down the economic blockades that have prevented our full participation in realizing the wealth and equity in our lands.”

Acting Grand Chief Jack Dysart said, “It’s time we support our grassroots people who are demanding change and a share of prosperity. We have an abundance of wealth in Canada, in Manitoba and we as leaders, have been called upon to be more aggressive on our own source revenue. We are charting economic success for our sovereign nations. No one is going to help us, we need to help ourselves, but Canada and the province of Manitoba have a trust-like relationship to ensure our rights are being upheld and honoured.”

Grand Chief Murray Clearsky, Southern Chiefs’ Organization said, “I stand in solidarity with all of the First Nations for the share of the wealth from the extraction of our natural resources. Minister Chomiak has done a poor job in gaming, hydro and mining. He should resign.”

Chief Michael Yellowback, Manito Sipi Cree Nation stated, “My community has a moratorium on any kind of resource development on our traditional territory. The province is not honest in their dealing with our community. They have given permits and extensions to companies even against their own laws. We have a pending law suit against Manitoba and because they know they are liable they have tried making a deal by offering equity funding. Even that deal they reneged on. Minister Chomiak and his bureaucrats are not honest, in my opinion.”

Chief Glenn Hudson, Peguis First Nation stated, “The Manitoba government failed miserably to consult with us or to accommodate our nation prior to issuing mining licenses in our traditional territory. They have disregarded our community wishes and protocol and ignored our inherent rights.”

Chief Buddy Beardy, Garden Hill First Nation asserted “Vale came to our community once, our people said no. Themost important thing to our people is to protect the land, the rivers and lakes. Our Elders told us to fight for our land and to protect it. Manitoba government was not truthful when they issued the drilling permit to Callinex Mines Inc.There was no community consultation. Minister Chomiak needs to examine his policy and how they do business with First Nations.”

First Nations from Island Lake have a “cease and desist” order on resource development. (See Letter) Manto Sipi Cree Nation and Red Sucker Lake First Nation have the support of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs on a moratorium on resource development. Mathias Colomb Cree Nation is currently facing a court injunction imposed by the courts and Hudbay to prevent its members from entering their own territory after numerous protests.

Chief Arlen Dumas, Mathias Colomb Cree Nation said, “Mathias Colomb Cree Nation has issued Stop Work orders to the province of Manitoba and Hudbay for two mines operating on our unceded traditional territories until both parties acknowledge our ownership interest in the lands and resources and obtain our consent before extracting our resources. The issue is not just about who shares in the wealth from our territories, but also the joint legal obligations to protect the lands, waters, plants and animals. Hudbay is currently in the courts in Canada for allegedly raping Indigenous women and murdering Indigenous Chiefs for protecting their lands from Hudbay mining. Here at home, Hudbay has filed a lawsuit against my people for hundreds of millions of dollars and obtained an injunction to stop us from using our lands. Manitoba is complicit in the bullying tactics of Hudbay and has failed to meet their constitutional legal obligations to protect our rights.”

Chief Alex McDougall, Wasagamack First Nation stated, “We have very pristine water in my territory and my people have said, protect the water by all means. If Callinex Mines Inc. and Vale think they can walk in into our territorywithout our consent our people will physically stop them. Last year, Manitoba issued Callinex a drilling permit without once coming to our community. That, to me is unlawful. We have sent a cease and desist order to Minister Chomiak to ensure they don’t issue an extension.”

Chief John Thunder of Buffalo Point First Nation said, “We have billions and billions of dollars annually in exports running through our front door and right out the back and we get nothing from this, that takes place in our Treaty 3Traditional Territory, and to make matters worse, they are on our land stealing our revenues while denying anyresponsibility to our Nation. Now they market in this Non-Consulted Parks Management Plan that our Treaty Land Entitlement selection, Birch Point is the only public access to Lake of the Woods, denying that the public access at Buffalo Point exist and ultimately using this to deny our selection. We have mining claims that were given without our consent at our Reed River Reserve and this proves they only want our lands and resources all to themselves and will stop at nothing until they have it all.”

Chief Les Harper, Red Sucker Lake First Nation said, “There has been mineral exploration in my traditional territory for more than 30 years. We have never benefitted from it. Our hunting, trapping, fishing and our way of life have been forever affected. Manitoba goes through the motions of consulting with us and permits are issued without determining and identifying the adverse impacts on our territory. Our Elders are now telling us not to drink the water because Mega Precious Metals Inc. is dumping waste into our rivers. There is no monitoring by Conservation and our proposal to monitor was denied. On April 13, 2013, our Elders, Women and Youth stood up and said no mineral exploration. We have now giving effect to a moratorium on mineral exploration in our territory. We have demanded, in order for mineral exploration to continue we have to have real benefits and that Manitoba and Mega Precious Metals must ensure our aboriginal and treaty rights are recognized.”

Chiefs, with the support of grassroots, are prepared to take direct action to achieve resource sharing and to send a message to the Manitoba government that the status quo is not acceptable. The grassroots are rallying for a summer of protests directed at the Manitoba government and resource development companies. Idle No More and other allies have vowed to support any First Nation and organization that defend the Aboriginal, treaty and inherent rights of First Nations, and stand in defence of the environment.

Media Contact:
Brennan Manoakeesick, MKO (204) 795-0449
Sheila North Wilson, AMC (204) 805-1759