Treaties and Land Claims: Current Problems

Duty to Consult/FPIC

February 2, 2022


Alberta cuts off Métis Consultation Policy negotiations

Métis Nation of Alberta – MNA has appealed a recent Alberta court decision that concluded the Kenney Government’s decision to cut off negotiations with the MNA on the development of Métis Consultation Policy did not breach the honour of the Crown, including the constitutional duties and obligations Alberta owed the MNA after five years of negotiations. The decision was based on internal and secret government documents that were never disclosed to the MNA at the time negotiations were terminated, and which the MNA only discovered due to the filing of a judicial review.

“The long outstanding and contentious issue of Crown consultation with Alberta Métis continues to undermine both Métis rights and resource development in the province,” said MNA President Audrey Poitras. “While Alberta has consultation policies in place for First Nations and the eight Alberta Métis Settlements, the vast majority of Alberta Métis citizens and communities are never consulted by Alberta when Métis lands, rights and interest are impacted by resource development. Alberta’s approach stands in stark contrast to the federal government who regularly consults with the MNA, which includes its Regions and Locals located throughout Alberta.”

In October 2014, the Progressive Conservative government led by Jim Prentice, and subsequently the New Democratic Party (NDP) government, led by Rachel Notley, engaged in formal negotiations with the MNA to develop a Métis Consultation Policy. In December 2018, a draft policy was presented to Cabinet with direction that further consultations be undertaken. In April 2019, the United Conservative Party government led by Jason Kenney was elected. Then, in September 2019, Alberta wrote to the MNA stating that it “will not be moving forward with the draft consultation policy,” ending five years of negotiations without explanation for the decision.

The MNA filed for a judicial review of the Minister’s decision. In the litigation, Alberta denied it was even negotiating with the MNA or that the honour of the Crown was engaged by its decision to terminate negotiations. Alberta also claimed it owed no duty or obligations to the MNA whatsoever.
Based on a unanimous resolution of the MNA Provincial Council, the MNA has now filed an appeal of Justice Ho’s decision to the Alberta Court of Appeal. In the appeal, the MNA claims that Justice Ho erred in considering and applying the application of the honour of the Crown, including the Crown’s duty to negotiate with the MNA. This is the first Alberta case to deal with the Crown’s duty to negotiate with Indigenous peoples, which has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in a series of cases.

July 15, 2020


Bill 17 ignores Duty to Consult

NationTalk -The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has been actively involved in the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources’ Comprehensive Review of BC Hydro, which contains many progressive ideas which, if intelligently implemented, would have positive impacts on energy policy benefiting all British Columbians. The changes contained in Bill 17 have never been raised during these engagements and these changes diminish the progressive ideas discussed in that review. It is disconcerting to realize that while this government was “consulting” on BC Hydro’s future, Bill 17 was secretly being developed.

Bill 17 would introduce a poorly conceived policy detrimental to regional economies and CleanBC targets, as well as the economic and self-sufficiency aspirations of First Nations in this province. The government’s myopic focus on the single priority of ‘affordability’ has blinded it to the ramifications this Bill has for many other government priorities. On the altar of ‘affordability’ would be sacrificed: Reconciliation, First Nations’ economic and governance aspirations, regional economic development opportunities, the energy self-sufficiency we enjoy in BC, clean energy and the NDP’s much touted environmental goals.

September 23, 2021


Bill 66 ignores First Nations issues

Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) – AFNQL deplores the complete lack of consideration for the realities of First Nations as presented by the First Nations leaders. The new version of the defunct Bill 61 confirms Quebec’s lack of consideration, even indifference, for economic recovery that is First Nations specific.

“First Nations issues must be part of the public debate and they deserve to be heard as part of the study of the Bill, especially with regard to economic issues where First Nations are light years away from Quebec. And yet, a good part of the wealth comes from the ancestral territories of our nations,” said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL, in reaction to the tabling of Bill 66. He also specified “that the message before the parliamentary committee in June and the letter of last August focused on First Nations economic recovery simply fell on deaf ears”.

November 24, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt.

Coastal First Nations vs Government of Alberta and 2 Métis organizations

Coastal First Nations – In the wake of the news that two Métis groups received funding from the Alberta Government to legally challenge the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, Coastal First Nations (CFN) will continue to fight to protect our waters, lands and resources from potential oil spills.

“We will do whatever it takes to protect our Territories,” said CFN executive director Christine Smith-Martin, adding that the decision to fund two groups, who claim to represent the Métis people, to challenge the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act has nothing to do with reconciliation. “It shows how desperate the Alberta government is to challenge the Act that they would attempt to create division between First Nations and Métis groups.”
In a statement on November 15, Métis Nation of Alberta president Audrey Poitras called the Fort McKay and Willow Lake groups “unaccountable, undemocratic and illegitimate organizations.”
President Poitras further stated: “These organizations are not elected or accountable to anyone and are made up of non-Métis individuals. These organizations do not speak for the Métis Nation, the Métis people or Métis communities in Alberta.”

The Fort McKay group was recognized by the Alberta government as an autonomous Indigenous community in 2020. “If this group, which has been around for two short years thinks our communities will stand idly by, they are mistaken,” says Smith-Martin. “We fought too long to get the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act in place.”
CFN communities have protected our Territories for at least 14,000 years, Smith-Martin said. “We know first-hand what an oil spill will do to our waters. The Heiltsuk Nation is still feeling the impacts of the Nathan E. Stewart spill.” “We take very seriously any threat or political maneuvering to challenge the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act by organizations that are not the title holders of the coastal communities in which these tankers would have traveled,” she adds.

The Act protects our lands and waters for future generations. “Pipelines and oil tankers will exacerbate climate change and move us away from creating a sustainable economy. We respect the rights of legitimate groups to their economic aspirations but not at our expense. These two groups do not hold any rights in the Great Bear Rainforest and certainly have no say in what happens in our coastal Territories.”

February 1, 2022


Failure of Treaty Land Entitlements

Southern Chief’s Organization – SCO is calling on the provincial government to put an immediate end to the practice of auctioning off Crown lands without first consulting with First Nations. In January, the province stated it would hold online auctions this week to sell off agricultural Crown land leases and permits. SCO firmly believes that First Nations should be given first option to acquire land that is up for sale.

First Nations were promised land more than a century ago when treaties were signed with the British Crown between 1871 and 1910. The province signed the Manitoba Framework Agreement on Treaty Land Entitlement in 1997 that called for more than a million acres of land to be transferred. A quarter of a century later, only half of that quota has been met. First Nations want to convert the land to use for cultural practices and economic opportunity.

“No matter who is at the helm, the current provincial administration is beholden to The Path to Reconciliation Act,” stated Grand Chief Daniels. “I cannot think of a better time to adhere to the language of that legislation than now. The act clearly states that reconciling the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Manitoba should be a priority. I call on Premier Stefanson to honour the act and the Treaties.”
SCO is also concerned that the land auctions are to take place without a formal Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) agreement for all First Nations in Manitoba. When a First Nation has a formalized TLE in place, it then has the first option to purchase neighbouring Crown land which can be used for critical economic development for its’ community.

“We must be adequately consulted in this process, and the focus should now be on honouring existing agreements and finalizing additional TLE agreements before any more land changes hands.”

February 18, 2021


Failure to consult First Nations around Mining projects in their territories

WindSpeaker – “It must be acknowledged that the 15 proposed mining projects that are planned for the next decade are on the ancestral, inherent, customary, traditional lands of many First Nations in Northwestern Ontario and that their free, prior, informed consent will be required before any development proceeds.” — Jason Rasevych, president of the Anishnawbe Business Professional Association (ABPA).

Rasevych points out the CEDC consulted with 25 organizations while preparing its strategy report. Yet only one Indigenous organization, the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund, was asked for its input. “Too often, First Nation’s socio-economic interests are an afterthought, resulting in delays in mine permitting, regulatory processes and ultimately the social license of Indigenous peoples,” he said. “There is also constitutionally protected rights and Treaties that must be honoured to respect the Indigenous peoples that have lived off the land since time immemorial.”

Rasevych was disappointed that First Nations, tribal councils and even the ABPA were not sought out to provide advice. “We would have thought we’d be a no-brainer to be a part of this study,” said Rasevych of his association, which was founded in 2019. Besides consulting with Indigenous communities, Rasevych said it is vital that any mining projects also include opportunities for Indigenous people to have active roles with their development. “First Nations require direct economic benefits in mining, and many are seeking a greater role in ownership of mines, power generation, and transmission projects to supply not only the mining site but also close the loop on legacy issues and their First Nation’s community needs,” he said.

December 17, 2020

Fed. Govt., ON

Failure to extend consulting period

CBC – Five First Nations in Northern Ontario – Neskantaga, Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Weenusk First Nations – sent a letter on Dec. 10, 2020 to the federal Impact Assessment Agency demanding more time for the consultation process announced on Nov. 12, 2020 with a deadline of Jan. 21, 2020. They wanted the date pushed back because of capacity issues related to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic including an ongoing water crisis and forced evacuations. In the letter, the chiefs wrote, “we do not want the [regional assessment] to start off on a track that is short and leads to dead ends; that does not make full use of the opportunity presented here and ends up being mere window dressing.”

The government’s response was to extend the deadline by eight days until Jan. 29, 2020.

But that didn’t fit Chief Moonias’ definition of meaningful consultation. “You have consultation before you start your project. You have to get permission from the nation before you start the project, that’s how we understand good faith consultation anyways … there’ll be no development in our nation’s territory unless we say so,” he said.

York University professor and Ring of Fire expert Dayna Scott, who has worked on research projects with Neskantaga in recent years, said, “if communities without the capacity to participate right now are going to just be sidelined or excluded and the planning is all going to continue ahead, then it seems that the government just wants to continue with that usual sort of same old approach that non-Indigenous interests can drive the future of the far north.” The York professor added, “but it’s a problem. It shows the audacity of both levels of government here that they think it’s okay to just push these First Nations to the side and continue on with their planning for a region that’s exclusively occupied by Indigenous people.”

January 16, 2022


Flood compensation after 134 years

CBC – More than a decade after they began, negotiations on flood claim settlements between several First Nations in southeastern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario and the federal and provincial governments appear to be drawing to a close. But some are wondering what those settlements will mean for the First Nations affected — and why it’s taken so long to address flooding caused by dams that were built over a century ago.
Negotiations for the claim settlements began in 2009 between the governments of Canada and Ontario and 13 Treaty 3 First Nations near Lake of the Woods, Shoal Lake and the Winnipeg River. One claim has already been settled (with Rainy River First Nations) and eight more are nearing their final stages, according to the province of Ontario.

The First Nation communities say the Rollerway dam, built in 1887, and the Norman dam, built in 1895 near Kenora, flooded their reserve lands without their consent or compensation.
According to the province of Ontario, the First Nations brought the flooding to the attention of the government of Canada as early as 1887, but no compensation was paid for the damage at that time, and no agreements were put in place to pursue ongoing flooding of the reserve lands.

A provincial website that gives an overview of the Lake of the Woods flooding claims says settlements will include financial compensation for past losses and damages due to flooding of reserve lands as well as an arrangement to address their continued flooding.

Permanent inundation of the First Nations’ shorelines created islands within the reserves where none existed before the dams, according to a fact sheet on the province of Ontario’s website.
In a 1995 paper, researchers with Grand Council Treaty 3 argued that late 19th-century flooding of reserve lands played a major role in the destruction of resources, such as wild rice and fish, for traditional Anishinaabe economies.

The paper includes a quote by a Canadian official from 1868, who reported that the 19th-century Anishinaabeg had “a sort of government … [and] are sufficiently organized, numerous and warlike, to be dangerous,” crediting this to an “abundance of food.”

Settlements to provide compensation for those harms may soon become a reality. Proposed settlements with eight of the 12 remaining First Nations with outstanding claims were expected to be ready for approval in 2021, a province of Ontario website says.

The province says it is currently participating in public engagement on settlements with Animakee Wa Zhing 37, Big Grassy River, Naotkamegwanning, Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation, Northwest Angle 33, Ojibways of Onigaming, Washagamis Bay and Wauzhushk Onigum Nation.

Four other affected First Nations — Anishinaabeg of Naongashiing, Buffalo Point, Iskatewizaagegan 39 and Shoal Lake 40 — will be part of a future public engagement, the province says.

May 24, 2020


Keeyask Hydro Project Duty to Consult Failure

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc.- is issuing this statement along with the four Cree Nations that have entered into a partnership with Manitoba Hydro in the construction and operation of the Keeyask Generating Station in Northern Manitoba. The four First Nations are: Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Fox Lake Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, and York Factory Cree Nation.

“MKO is pleased that Manitoba Hydro has come to an agreement with the four Cree Nations regarding the Keeyask construction site,” stated Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “It is imperative that corporations working in our territory are full partners and in agreement with plans to open up the North—the First Nations had made it clear for weeks that they were not in agreement with the plans made for the Keeyask project. Their ultimate concern was in protecting their communities from the threat of COVID-19.

The agreement made between the Chiefs and Manitoba Hydro includes the removal of blockades, the lifting of the injunction against Tataskweyak Cree Nation, as well as planning exercises, a move towards implementing the project plan for Keeyask, and an in-person meeting between the CEO and the leadership of the four Cree Nations.

May 20, 2020


Keeyask Hydro Project Duty to Consult Failure

Amnesty International – Despite legal obligations, Manitoba Hydro has not worked collaboratively to obtain consent to this most recent decision to expand operations (Keeyask Hydro project) and is ignoring requests by the four partner First Nations (Fox Lake, War, York Factory) to limit work at the dam site because of public health concerns. “Every effort must be made to contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Ana Collins, Indigenous Rights Campaign Advisor with Amnesty International Canada. “Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba are rightfully occupying and defending lands to which they still hold inherent title. Yet federal and provincial governments continue to rely upon repudiated papal doctrines of discovery and terra nullius to claim (as in the Haida decision) “presumed Crown sovereignty.”

Without question, these communities have an inherent responsibility and right to control access into their territories to protect their communities from COVID-19 and prevent unsustainable pressure on healthcare systems in rural and remote areas. “In light of the highly infectious nature of COVID-19, and the particular threat that it poses to vulnerable communities with inadequate access to health care, housing, water and other essential services, it is imperative that federal, provincial and territorial governments respect the right of Indigenous peoples to set conditions of entry into their territories. Indigenous communities must be able to restrict access of industry workers, tourists, cottagers, and others. Where Indigenous communities have required suspension of certain activities in their territories, this must be respected.”

Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Northern Manitoba First Nations had the highest rates of hospitalizations of all First Nations in Canada during the last H1N1 pandemic. MacLean’s July 16, 2009

February 25, 2022


Lawsuit against Québec government for failure in Duty to Consult to protect Caribou

Feb. 25, 2022: NationTalk – The Innu First Nation Council of Essipit and Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan (Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation), who have officially filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court for failure to fulfill its duty to consult on issues related to the protection of Atiku, the caribou.

For more than two decades, Innus have been actively involved in the fight to protect Atiku, which is at the heart of their identity and way of life. Tireless efforts have been made with the Quebec government to ensure that a consultation process and protection measures are put in place for the caribou and its habitat. However, the government has deliberately failed in its constitutional duty to consult and has ignored repeated requests for an appropriate Nation-to-Nation forum to discuss issues related to Atiku.

In 2016 and up until today, since the tabling of an action plan for the development of caribou habitat, the Quebec government has never taken into account nor respected the rights and decision-making role of First Nations concerning this species. Over the years, even though they have agreed to participate openly, the First Nations have deplored the setting up of inappropriate tables and forums that do not allow them to be adequately consulted and accommodated and, more generally, to discuss their ancestral rights, including their ancestral title and other interests.

Even recently, when First Nations submitted a rigorous consultation protocol that remained unanswered, the government continues to stubbornly stall, to multiply nebulous answers, with the explicit objective of imposing its independent commission, which is not the appropriate forum for debating the rights and issues of First Nations. Moreover, this commission is perceived by many as totally useless since the government already has all the specialists and data necessary to act on this issue.

For First Nations, procrastination is unacceptable because of the urgency of the caribou situation, whose decline is already causing an inevitable cultural loss and jeopardizing Aboriginal rights and title.

“Our First Nations have always collaborated in good faith and reiterated their willingness to be stakeholders in the development and decision-making regarding the caribou strategy, in an honourable Nation-to-Nation approach. The government should have seized the opportunity to demonstrate its sincere willingness to undertake the process of collaboration, consultation, and accommodation without delay, as the precarious situation of Atiku requires. We demand the respect of our ancestral rights and immediate measures to protect the caribou and its habitat, based on Innu and scientific knowledge. We recently stated that if the government cannot protect the caribou, the Innu will. We are keeping our promise,” said the Chiefs, Mr. Martin Dufour of the Innu First Nation Council of Essipit and Mr. Gilbert Dominique of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation, in one voice.

September 24, 2021


Muskrat Falls Mitigation Plan lawsuit

NL Government – The Parties have requested the Court defer releasing a decision on the injunction application to provide an opportunity for discussions to take place. The Parties will not be commenting further at this time.

August 12, 2021


Muskrat Falls Mitigation Plan lawsuit

The Independent – Innu in Labrador are suing Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador over a financial agreement they say violates their rights as Indigenous people. Leaders from Sheshatshiu and Natuashish filed the lawsuit at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s against the settler colonial governments over the recently announced Muskrat Falls rate mitigation plan.

The litigation is “based on the fact that Canada and the Province took direct, deliberate and decisive action to extinguish the financial benefits that the Innu people were promised in return for their consent that Muskrat Falls could be built,” a news release from Innu Nation issued Tuesday afternoon explains.

Together the Innu Nation, Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, and Mushuau Innu First Nation say the federal and provincial governments “violated their duties to the Innu” as outlined in the Lower Churchill Impacts and Benefits Agreement (IBA) and the Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) that effectively paved the way for the construction of the controversial Muskrat Falls hydro project.

The plaintiffs allege Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador’s new Muskrat Falls deal “breaches the Crown’s fiduciary duties to the Innu, breaches the duty to consult and accommodate, and breaches the honor of the Crown.”

In their statement of claim the Innu say they consented to the Lower Churchill Projects based on the agreed financial benefits they would receive in exchange for permitting hydroelectric development on the unceded lands where they have asserted Aboriginal rights and title.

The claim also states the province “promised that Innu financial interests would be held harmless throughout the Rate Mitigation Negotiations,” and that Premier Andrew Furey “specifically and explicitly confirmed that Innu Nation would be consulted before any rate mitigation agreement was announced.”

The Innu are seeking a declaration from the courts that the provincial and federal governments have a fiduciary obligation to disclose to Innu Nation any details of the rate mitigation negotiations that would affect the amount and timing of benefits the Innu would receive via the Lower Churchill IBA. They also want a declaration that the governments have a duty to consult the Innu, and that the province has a legal obligation to the Innu “to avoid self dealing and other conflicts of interest in allocating financial benefits received from Canada with respect to the Rate Mitigation Negotiations.”

On the latter point, the court filing says that Canada’s diversion of revenues from the Hibernia offshore oil project toward rate mitigation for Muskrat Falls—without formalizing this part of the deal in any final agreement—would be “an unjustifiable attempt to exclude [the Innu] from a share of those revenues and an example of self-dealing” by the province. The Innu want compensation for the colonial governments’ breaches of their legal obligations of an amount to be determined at trial. They are also asking the court for an injunction to prohibit Canada and the province from finalizing a rate mitigation deal until these issues are resolved.

November 30, 2021


Neskantaga FN sues government

CBC – Neskantaga First Nation is taking Ontario to court looking for “ground rules” on how the province should consult and accommodate Indigenous communities that are in a state of crisis.

For example:

  • Forced evacuation of entire reserve in October 2020 (300 people) due to tainted water
  • Under boil water advisory for 26 years
  • State of emergency since 2013 after 7 people committed suicide in less than a year
    six per cent, or 12 of the 217 members living off-reserve, have tested positive for COVID-19

Those issues have been compounded by the pandemic, leaving Neskantaga ill-equipped to engage in what the province has presented as consultation on a project to build a road through its territory to the mineral-rich Ring of Fire, community leaders say. The lawsuit, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Nov. 23, says the First Nation is looking for clarity after its “recent experience of inadequate consultations on a component of a larger road project that will run through [the First Nation’s] homelands,” and that the province’s Environmental Assessment Act “is completely silent” on how to consult Indigenous communities in crisis.

February 24, 2021


Neskantaga FN sues government

CBC – A state of emergency has been declared by Neskantaga First Nation after a number of its members living off-reserve tested positive for COVID-19.

Chief Chris Moonias says six per cent, or 12 of the 217 members living off-reserve, have tested positive for the virus. That includes one person in critical condition at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. The declaration requests that Indigenous Services Canada fund emergency housing “to accommodate the homeless population who have been forced off-reserve due to a lack of housing,” Chief Moonias added this means members of the First Nation often leave and end up in urban centres like Thunder Bay, Ont., where “some of them fall into homelessness, mental health issues and addictions.”

A fact sheet accompanying the press release explained that the community doesn’t have capacity to support necessary isolation for Neskantaga citizens that want to return home. That’s on top of the existing water, health, social services and other infrastructural deficits in the First Nation as a result of chronic underfunding.

April 13, 2021


Ongoing failure to consult with Wolastoqey Chiefs

Wolastoqey Chiefs – Premier Blaine Higgs cancelled all tax revenue sharing agreements with New Brunswick First Nations that had been in place for over 25 tears. These agreements were established to offset the ongoing significant gap “in the per capita funding federal and provincial governments provide for education and social services for First Nations reserves’ throughout Canada compared to funding levels off-reserve for similar services.

“With the recent court decision siding with the Wolastoqey on the matter of these tax agreements giving us faith that the justice system here isn’t totally broken, this decision by the Premier to find an alternative door out of these agreements shows that this government is, in fact totally broken,” said Chief Bernard. “This settler government has little interest in a meaningful relationship with the original peoples of this territory beyond how much more money it can leech from our resources, be it natural or financial.”

Background on Higgs’ history on tax-sharing agreements:

  • In 2014, without consulting Premier David Alward or his cabinet colleagues, he issued a notice to cancel tax sharing agreements with First Nations days before a provincial election call citing his view that helping minorities was unfair to the majority he represents.
  • In 2020, he engineered his carbon tax in such a way that several million was taken away from First Nations despite designing special measures so that the provincial government lost no revenue and that the natural gas distributor lost no revenue from the carbon tax.
  • In 2020, he overruled his own minister of Aboriginal affairs to block an inquiry into systemic racism and in response dumped that minister from cabinet and relegated the portfolio to a part-time job.
  • In 2021, despite an ongoing court proceeding he proactively telephoned several reporters to speak against the tax-sharing agreements and issued a statement trying to defend his position.
  • In 2021, the courts ruled his plan to use the carbon tax as an excuse to take money from First Nation initiatives to boost their economies, reduce poverty and fund social services was against the law. Government has refused to comment on this decision until now.

“The fact that the Premier made a point to suggest that First Nations don’t pay taxes but access the same programs as the rest of the province and perpetuate this racist stereotype is frightening,” Bernard said. “It is well documented that First Nations aren’t able to access health, education or other social support on a level equal to non- Indigenous Canadians.”

To add insult to injury, Chief Bernard said she and other Chiefs received an invitation from the finance minister with only two-hours’ notice to be briefed after the fact on today’s announcement

April 20, 2020


Opening mine in Nunavik without consulting Inuit

Makivik Corporation – who represent the Inuit of Nunavik, is strongly opposed to the resumption of mining activities in the Nunavik region. The decision was made unilaterally by the government of Quebec without consultation whatsoever with the Inuit and was further supported by a directive issued by the Nunavik’s Director of Public Health, and Nunavik’s Director of Civil Security to partially lift the travel ban to Nunavik for the purpose of the reopening of the mining sites. Inuit account for the vast majority of the population in Nunavik and need to have a say on major regional issues such as this one. Miners started returning to the region yesterday.

“Makivik will not entertain the opening of any mines at this time in Nunavik. This is very dangerous. The Inuit elected officials in the communities and in the different regional organizations need to be heard and need to make the decisions and call the shots. Nunavik cannot and will not be governed by civil servants who may be tempted to use the pandemic to empower themselves” says Makivik President Charlie Watt. “ We have written numerous letters to Quebec on different issues related to the pandemic and they have not responded…not even an acknowledgement of receipt.” As the signatory to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) and the Raglan and Nunavik Nickel Agreement, Makivik Corporation is the political representative of the Inuit of Nunavik, and this is without question. Quebec can’t ignore Makivik and has to fully respect the spirit and intent of the JBNQA. The Inuit can’t accept to go through another bad episode of colonialism in 2020.

May 6, 2019

Fed. Govt.

Treaty 6, 7, and 8 insist on FPIC

The Chiefs of Sovereign and Treaty Nations from Treaty 6, 7 and 8 have consistently told Canada, “Nations don’t make laws for other Nations”. Despite numerous attempts to work with the Federal Government, Canada continues to unilaterally develop laws and policies without our right to free, prior and informed consent. Alexander First Nation, Chief Kurt Burnstick

On behalf of our Nation and three other First Nations, we filed an early warning action with the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) against all the unilateral actions of Canada. In December 2018, a letter was sent to Canada asking what steps Canada has taken to protect the rights of our Nations to our free, prior and informed consent in all aspects from legislation to policy changes. CERD gave Canada until the 8th of April 2019 to respond to our UN CERD submission” added Chief Makinaw.

June 9, 2020


Using COVID to deny Duty to Consult

CBC – Nine faculty members at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School are calling on the provincial government to press pause on mineral staking and permitting processes on Indigenous territory in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter addressed to Greg Rickford, the province’s minister of energy, northern development and mines state that continued exploration is putting an undue burden on remote northern communities, and making it too difficult for meaningful consultation to take place.

“We didn’t think it’s lawful the way they’re proceeding with mining as usual in the context of a global pandemic,” said Dayna Scott, an associate professor at the school and in the faculty of urban and environmental change at York, and the primary author of the letter. “And that’s in particular because many of the remote Indigenous communities that we work with in Ontario are expressing extreme difficulty in managing the sort of day-to-day work that needs to be done in governing their communities in the context of the pandemic.”

May 22, 2020


Using COVID to deny Duty to Consult

Policy Options – “Pandemic shouldn’t impede meaningful Indigenous engagement on Ring of Fire”. Ontario government announced that “a regional assessment of potential mining operations for the Ring of Fire will be undertaken”. The announcement only posted on the agency website severely impacts the ability of First Nations to meaningfully engage in the consulting process. Only those registered on the email distribution received the email notification that:

  • Agency suspended all face-to-face meetings
  • Cancelled all engagement activities
  • Agency will continue to develop a regional assessment and plan with a much more constrained engagement

As evidence demonstrates, inadequate internet access and a lack of cellular networks access to remote regions in Northern Ontario put First Nations at a greater disadvantage in efforts to participate at a distance during the global pandemic. For remote First Nations in Northern Ontario, the agency must work harder to ensure that the voices of communities implicated in the Ring of Fire regional assessment are not further silenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Vague statements such as the one released to the email distribution list do little to provide implicated communities, organizations, and individuals the clarity required to adequately adjust and prepare for consultation opportunities once the threat of COVID-19 subsides.

In the meantime, it is imperative that First Nation community members and leadership, scholars, activists, policy-makers, consultants and other groups interested in Ontario’s Ring of Fire remain as vigilant as possible during COVID in monitoring developments in the region and ensuring major decisions are not made without critical thought or meaningful Indigenous and public engagement.

April 5, 2020


Using COVID to deny Duty to Consult

NationTalk – Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, and Neskantaga First Nations in the James Bay lowlands have declared a moratorium on April 1 on any development in or to facilitate access to the Ring of Fire mining area in accordance with:

  • Our Indigenous Laws including the Natural Laws of the Creator;
  • Our Inherent Rights (arising from the reality that we have always have been “in here” in this place in the world);
  • Treaty No. 9 between our First Nations and the Crown;
  • International laws including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and its requirements for free, prior and informed consent, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and customary laws that protect our right to self-determination, require environmental due diligence, and prohibit destruction of our ability to survive in our environments; and
  • Canadian domestic laws that adopted and intend to implement UNDRIP (such as the federal Bill C-15); the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA); Canada’s Constitution including section 35 affirming our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, and the Charter section 7 being the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

This MORATORIUM is declared from this date and shall stand intact unless and until Canada and Ontario act in accordance with their obligations under the laws stated above, in respect of the Ring of Fire, and agree to a Regional Impact Assessment (RIA)

This MORATORIUM is declared because Canada, through the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) has breached the honour of the Crown, all the laws stated above, and the project of reconciliation and decolonization by acting with duplicity behind our backs in collaboration with Ontario, to render the RIA little but political puffery, with mere token First Nation “involvement”, narrow in its focus and weak in its result.


Shortly after the IAA came into force in 2019, some First Nations and others requested an RIA under it for the Ring of Fire;

  • Due to these requests, and given that the Ring of Fire begs for an RIA anyway – it is by definition a regional area for which much large scale mining and infrastructure development is sought – Canada agreed that a RIA would be held;
  • First Nations have expressed our expectation of equal partnership in the RIA, and have been requesting since early 2020 to have the RIA, including planning, not commence until after the pandemic and the crises it has caused in the First Nation communities are over, to ensure that First Nations could engage in this process safely and in accordance with our Laws and Customs;
  • Canada agreed to such suspensions of time, and gave assurances that First Nations would have meaningful involvement at all stages of the RIA, including planning;
  • First Nations have put Canada on notice since late 2020 that they intend to develop a proposal for a First Nations – led, comprehensive and meaningful RIA that does not allow Crown governments to use it as a mere window dressing, box-ticking exercise;
  • Despite Canada knowing of First Nations’ intent and agreeing to time to develop this proposal after the pandemic crisis had ended, Canada now informs us it effectively had no intent of paying any attention to any such proposal; and that Canada and Ontario have been collaborating behind First Nations’ backs for the last year to agree on the terms of reference for the RIA which they will show us in April “for comment”, and in which First Nations have nothing but token involvement.