Sisson mine impact on Maliseet First Nations 'significant'
Federal environmental assessment of project says not enough done to mitigate impact on Maliseet concerns
There isn't enough being done to mitigate the impact of the proposed Sisson Brook mine on Maliseet First Nations people, states a new report from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
Sisson Mines Ltd. is proposing to develop an open pit tungsten and molybdenum mine and ore processing facility 60 kilometres northwest of Fredericton.
The mine is projected to operate for 27 years at a mining rate of 30,000 dry tonnes per day.
A comprehensive study reportby the environmental assessment agency states the project is "not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects taking into account the implementation of mitigation measures."
"The agency considered that the measures proposed fail to address the permanent loss of access to an area of high value and the associated use of that area," states the report.
"The agency concludes that the project is likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Maliseet First Nations."
Traditional Maliseet resource area
The mine is expected to result in the loss of 1,253 hectares with residual impacts on hunting, fishing and other resources used by Maliseet and Mi'kmaq First Nations for traditional purposes.
But Ron Tremblay, the Wolastoq grand chief, says no amount of accommodation is worth damaging the land.
"I spoke to a couple of the chiefs, and they said there were possible other parcels of land, and so on, but I, as the Wolastoq grand chief, don't approve of the accommodation process. We just want them to leave the land as it is," said Tremblay.
"We feel that as traditional people, we still utilize the land in our gathering, to hunt, and to do ceremonies, plus to collect medicines in that traditional territory," he said. "That's a very sacred piece of land to our people."
"We have members from all over the province, and each community has members in the grand council … We all stand pretty much together and we're in favour of keeping our lands together."
Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault said in March 2015 the provincial government could consider giving St. Mary's First Nation a piece of land if the $579-million mine project is approved.
"Within the remaining Crown land blocks, use by these First Nations is limited by other existing land uses," the report said.
In December 2015, a lawyer representing six Maliseet bands said "none of the Maliseet chiefs support the project."
"The main reactions are dismay and anger over the approvals coming so suddenly and with basically no warning," Nouvet said.
- Maliseet First Nations 'dismayed' by Sisson Mine approval
- Sisson mine project slammed by aboriginal leaders
- St. Mary's chief vows to fight mine project 'at all costs'
In August 2013, about 100 members from St. Mary's First Nation occupied the site of the proposed mine and Chief Candace Paul vowed to fight the project "at all costs."
"We will have to do what we have to do. This is our traditional land."
The publication of the report late Friday initiated a 30-day period for public comment on the report.
With files from Catherine Harrop