Sudbury

Community member urges Moose Cree First Nation to preserve North French watershed at all costs

A member of the Moose Cree First Nation is so troubled by recent events in his community that he is speaking out publicly.

Interim management committee governing the community after chief and council dissolved March 20

A member of the Moose Cree First Nation is so troubled by recent events in his community that he is speaking out publicly.

The community of more than 2,000 is located near the Moose River at the southern tip of James Bay.

Dwaine Davey says he's disturbed by the way chief and council were dissolved at a meeting last March 20th.

That's the night that nine councillors resigned, triggering the dissolution of chief and council. They cited unnamed concerns with the leadership of Chief Patricia Faries.

An interim management committee organized by the community's executive director is now overseeing day-to-day operations until the election set for July 2nd.

Numerous calls to former chief, councillors and band administration have not been returned.

Proposed mine

Davey is critical what he sees as the motives behind the resignations that effectively shut out the former chief.

He believes it all happened because Faries opposes the proposed development of a niobium mine in a pristine watershed 45 km south of Moose Factory.

"I want the expert who is Patricia Faries, our chief lawyer, environmentalist, I want her back. She's the expert. She's the one who has all the files. My concern is how they removed her," he said.

Davey says some families live traditionally in the area. He says their way of life needs to be preserved at all costs, but concedes there are those in the community who would like to see the jobs and economic spin-offs that a mine would bring.

Consultation

The mining company, NioBay, is proposing a shallow mine in South Bluff to mine niobium, which is an alloy used in making steel.

President Claude Dufresne says he's been trying to consult with the community as required, even setting up an information office in Moose Factory.

Dufresne believes he can reassure those worried about environmental damage by addressing their concerns particularly about contamination of the watershed.

The province issued the company an exploration permit at the end of January which was met with an application for a judicial review last month from those in opposition to it.

The Ministry of the Attorney General says no date has been set to hear the review.

As for Davey, he says no amount of reassurance will change his mind.

He says the territory is the lifeblood of the people and to sacrifice it to economic interests would not bring prosperity, but would invite illness and death.