Time to settle claims
Posted June 30 2008
Friction between aboriginals and the mining industry is bad for North Bay and Canada. The apology for the residential schools tragedy made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper should be a new beginning. The First Nations are equal and proud Canadians.
But hundreds of outstanding land claims must be settled.
Of late, there have been very serious confrontations between mineral exploration crews and natives opposed to their presence.
The right to prospect, or search for minerals on Crown land is embedded in tradition and law. Anyone in Ontario can purchase a prospector's license. The lonely prospector who takes great risks, and the people who grub-staked" him, or put up the money for essential supplies, are part of Canadian mythology.
Grub-staked by New Liskeard businessmen, Ed Horne paddled from Lake Temiskaming to Lake Osisko in Northwestern Quebec and found what was to be the Noranda mine and the start of a huge mining empire.
Recently prospectors looking for diamonds discovered the nickel deposits at Voisey's Bay in Newfoundland.
Mining pumps billions into federal and provincial coffers every year and creates thousands of well-paid jobs. That Canada is in better economic shape than the recession- hit United States is largely due to its diverse mineral riches.
Yet native groups are often resisting exploration crews and have had some leaders jailed for blocking them. They have garnered considerable public sympathy. In response, the McGuinty government is expected to change the Ontario Mining Act.
North Bay has no mines, but it has a large mining supply segment which employs close to 2,000 people. Recent news from Sturgeon Falls indicates this community will also get many jobs thanks to a new mining-related enterprise.
It must be stated that North Bay is fortunate in having many First Nation communities close by. Hardly a week passes without The Nugget reporting positive news from an aboriginal group. Saturday's paper told of happy customers at the new Old Chief Fish Market. This is the first time the native community has sold fish through a co-operative business model regulated by its own laws and conservation plan and endorsed by the MNR.
If anything or anyone threatens Lake Nipissing's fish stocks the non-natives of North Bay will stand united with the First Nations to block them.
But without exploration, mining will die. The Mining Act must not be replaced with another bureaucratic nightmare. What is needed is a fast and effective dispute settlement mechanism. And the mining industry must move to improve its relations with First Nations, and make them part of the industry that can offer real economic opportunity and equality.
And the feds must move to settle land claims. Apologizing is not enough.
Apologies aren't enough
Group calls for justice, land claim settlements
Posted By BY ANGELA SCAPPATURA, THE SUDBURY STAR
Posted 4 hours ago
Indigenous and non-indigenous people gathered at Victoria Park to assert their support for the struggles of aboriginals in Canada on Saturday.
Heavy rain did not prevent more than a dozen people from attending the day-long event, which included a drumming workshop, personal stories and musical performances.
The event was organized by Sudbury Against War and Occupation and was designed to raise awareness of aboriginal issues.
Gary Kinsman is a member of Sudbury Against War and Occupation and said the inaugural event displays solidarity between both indigenous and non-indigenous people.
"I think it's important
because what we're showing is that the government's apology around residential schools was not enough," he said while standing beneath a tarp protecting a barbeque and food from the rain.
"The government policies around indigenous people are, in general, pretty bad."
Many of the day's events highlighted the group's concern surrounding First Nations land claims. Kinsman, who is not an aboriginal, said there needs to be justice for the community.
"There has been attempts to criminalize, to throw in jail the various leaders of indigenous struggles," he said. "We're here to say that's not going to be tolerated, that people in Sudbury are going to join together and oppose those policies until there is justice for First Nations people."
The smell of burning tobacco wafted through the small room as traditional aboriginal drumming group, Sha Daa Kim opened the day's workshops.
Aboriginal elder Barb Riley addressed the gathering and said it is time for the Canadian government to settle land claims.
She said the day of solidarity signifies that settlers (Caucasians) are learning the value of land.
"I hold a mortgage to my residence here in Sudbury. If I didn't pay that mortgage, the bank would come after me and foreclose," she said. "I think that is what the First Nations should start doing. Foreclosing on the land. Not take the land back, but make them pay through royalties."
Riley said the government needs to reassess its "paternalistic" attitude toward First Nations.
"We are smart people, we don't need people making decisions for us," she said. "Maybe we did at one time when they put the residential schools in place, but many of our people now have law degrees and PhD's to run their own businesses and affairs."
Riley was a student at a residential school and said the recent apology made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is meaningless if they don't settle land claims.
"It's just words," she said. In soft, even tones, she
described what she believes is a genocide being committed against First Nations people. She said the residential schools was part of it. Now, she said, the removal of children from aboriginal homes and placement with the Children's Aid Society is another version of it.
"It isn't helping our children," she said.