Ontario Premier Doug Ford doesn’t have a bulldozer operator’s license. But that hasn’t stopped him from repeatedly saying he is willing to drive the bulldozers himself to build the roads needed for mining the Ring of Fire area in Northern Ontario.
Ford’s heavy machinery fantasies reveal his disdain for the law, his lack of respect for due process, and an aggressive colonial feeling of entitlement to take what he wants. Indeed, he has been bulldozing Ontario with reckless abandon since he became Premier.
While Ford’s diesel-powered dreams have not yet come to pass, his government has granted thousands of mining claims on First Nations land without free, prior, and informed consent. These claims grant the prospector a wide range of rights under Crown law to explore the area for valuable minerals and profit from what they discover. But these lands have been home to Indigenous peoples for thousands of years and continue to provide the sources of life, culture, and livelihood.
The Ontario government also wants to fast track dangerous mine approvals, delay safe mine closure plans, and build environmentally disastrous roads to reach the Ring of Fire throughout First Nations lands – including through the sensitive mushkego boreal forest, the world’s second largest intact wetland.
But in Northern Ontario, five strong First Nations have pledged to stand united to protect the land and water and defend their right to self-determination.
Six months ago, leaders from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Wapekeka, Neskantaga, Muskrat Dam and Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows) signed a Mutual Cooperation Agreement. Their combined territories cover an area of over 60,000 square kilometers.
The five member nations of the Land Alliance have attempted to bring the Ontario government to the negotiation table for many years without success. They are calling on Premier Ford to end the “free entry” claim-staking system, which allows companies and individuals to stake mining claims on First Nations lands from the comfort of their offices without gaining the consent of the Indigenous peoples who live there.
The Council of Canadians is rallying our members in support of these First Nations’ efforts to protect their territories from unwanted industrial activity. Our active support has helped many times in the past!
Join the Land Defence Alliance to demand respect for Indigenous rights and protect the sources of life on their territories in the face of mining incursions.
If you live in Toronto, come to Grange Park on September 27th at noon to rally with hundreds of members of the Land Defence Alliance who are coming to present their demands and build public support for their struggle for control over their lives and their lands.
Check out http://www.FreeGrassy.net for more details.