Indigenous community warns Ontario it could be negotiating with the devil

In November, the Ontario government made a controversial move to extend the mining life of a giant magnetite iron ore mine by another 12 years. Now, a statement from Indigenous groups says the community believes the mine will be able to continue for decades to come, but not without the consent of the local Northern Ontario Inuit community, who have voted against mining in the past.

The decision that led to the extended mining life was made in the fall when Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s right-wing government, along with the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties, successfully passed two pieces of legislation that overturned Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government, which had OK’d a development project a 12-year extension. Ford’s two reforms to stop the development project: one bill allowed the owner of the mine to apply for another extension. Another bill allowed the company to apply for new permits, the mine’s executive told the Globe and Mail.

Now, the Ontario Indigenous Fire Residence of Crysler Lake First Nation (who filed a formal complaint with the government in November that blasted the permits and said they were leading to “trickery and bad faith”) have issued a statement saying they were “expressly forbidden to intervene in granting these permits.” But they won’t sit back.

“I and my community have only just found out they (the government) have extended the mining licence to 2021 for Iron Ore Recovery Inc,” Sukhmander Ghillemi said in the statement. “We want to know if the mine extension is going to destroy our way of life. We want to know what happens next. If the MNR [Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry] had consulted with the Tribal Committee, this would have been avoided.”

“While we have known for many years that pollution from the mine would further contaminate our water supply, and that the environment would be further compromised by the mine’s continued operations, we were forced to allow the mine to continue operating — so we could do the thing we all have been waiting our whole lives to do.”

Read the full story at The Globe and Mail.


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