This Magazine reports, “Activist, writer, and professor Judy Rebick spoke at Ryerson University in Toronto last Tuesday about the struggles of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI)… Sponsored by the Canadian Federation of Students, the Council of Canadians, Christian Peacemaker Teams, and Earthroots, concerned members of the public gathered hear about how the Government of Ontario is making and breaking promises to the northern community of KI. …Addressing the crowded room, KI Chief Donny Morris, KI spokesperson John Cutfeet, and Judy Rebick shared the past struggles with mineral exploration the community has endured.”
“600km north of Thunder Bay, KI has a population of approximately 1,200. The reserve of winding rivers and lush forests covers 300 square kilometres and residents speak English and Obj-Cree. …Three years ago, in the same room at Ryerson, indigenous activists and others in solidarity gathered to rally around the ‘KI 6,’ who had been incarcerated for contempt of court. These community members were jailed for preventing Platinex, a Canadian gold mining exploration company, access to their lands despite a court order.”
“Despite putting the struggle against Platinex behind them, KI land is being explored and prospected without consultation or consent again, this time by junior gold exploration company, God’s Lake Resources. After the four-year battle with Platinex, the Government of Ontario issued a new Mining Act in 2008. This legislation required companies to consult with First Nations communities before staking mining claims on their territories. The Government of Ontario has now broken its own law by giving God’s Lake Resources an exploration permit. Not only is the prospected land on KI territory, the site chosen by the company is home to traditional burial grounds.”
“Resource exploration in that area is also forbidden under the Watershed Declaration that the KI community adopted in a referendum. This declaration protects about 40 square kilometres of water from any mineral exploration and exploitation. For land outside of the watershed area, the community has put in place a new consultation protocol, which establishes a process for companies and governments to approach KI to indicate their plans and request consent.” For more on the Watershed Declaration, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10850.
“Tired of being ignored and lied to, KI is once again ready to resist. ‘We have tried everything to try and live in the established mechanisms of society,’ (KI spokesperson John) Cutfeet said, adding that despite all of KI’s efforts to play by the rules, poverty and resource extraction persists, with nothing coming back to the community. KI is now (preparing) for another battle. And for this battle, they are enlisting allies.”
The Council of Canadians is one of those allies. Apart from being a co-sponsor of last Tuesday’s public forum, we also invited Cutfeet to speak at the recent Indignez-Vous! Conference in Montreal organized by the Council of Canadians and allies. To respond to an action alert in support of the KI, please go to our website at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12025.