Thunder Bay

First Nations plan to evict mining 'intruders'

Six northwestern Ontario First Nations are preparing eviction notices for mining companies working in the Ring of Fire.

Northwestern Ontario communities aim to stop development in the Ring of Fire until First Nations' concerns are met.

First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario say they will evict miners from their lands if their concerns aren't met. (CBC)

Six northwestern Ontario First Nations are preparing eviction notices for mining companies working in the Ring of Fire.

Aroland, Constance Lake, Ginoogaming , Long Lake 58, Neskantaga and Nibinamik plan to give the companies 30 days to cease all activity.

Neskantaga chief Peter Moonias said unless there are government-to-government negotiations over First Nations' participation in the mining projects, the communities will evict what he calls the intruders on their lands. The chiefs have been calling for those negotiations for more than two years.

"Cliffs, Noront and all the other mining companies active in the Ring of Fire will have 30 days from the time the eviction notice is served to pack up their bags and leave our lands," Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation said.

His comments were echoed by Chief Johnny Yellowhead of Nibinamik First Nation.

"All the Memorandums of Co-operation in the world cannot hide the fact that there are no negotiations or agreements in place with Ontario and Canada to deliver First Nation decision-making, a full and thorough regional environmental assessment with hearings in our communities, and resource revenue-sharing," he said.

"Unless we stop this project now and assert our treaty rights, we will be left on the sidelines watching the chromite leave our lands while our communities remain in poverty."

Poll shows support for First Nations involvement

In a related development, an Ontario-wide poll has found support for First Nations' involvement in mining development in the Ring of Fire. The poll by Oracle Research was commissioned by a consultant working for Greenstone.

It found that barely 30 per cent of respondents knew about the Ring of Fire. However 89 per cent said First Nations should have been consulted about processing or smelting ore in their area. A total of 57 per cent support the position of First Nations that say they will not allow mining unless processing happens in their territory.

Aroland chief Sonny Gagnon said he's pleased with the poll’s results.

"That's what I've been saying for the past two years ... where are you gonna process the ore? How many people agree that consultations should have been done?"

A total of 45 per cent of respondents said Ring of Fire resources should be processed or smelted in the First Nations area in which it is mined. Gagnon said he considers that a high number. A total of 31 per cent disagreed.

The poll was part of an omnibus survey of Ontarians, so questions were asked about a diversity of issues. Oracle said the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.