Chief Donny Morris Photo by Catherine Sergerie
The Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal reports, “The chief of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation is calling on the province to stop a gold exploration company from working on a KI ancestral burial site. ‘Our ancestors deserve a place where they can rest undisturbed,’ Chief Donny Morris said Wednesday. ‘People everywhere understand that cemeteries are sacred places. But in Sherman Lake, they want to put a gold mine on one.’ The band claims that mining exploration company God’s Lake Resources has staked new claims despite KI’s well-publicized moratorium, and that the company has worked the site in spite of being informed that multiple grave sites are within the claim area.”
“On July 5, KI residents voted 96 per cent in favour of a KI consultation protocol that establishes a process which outside governments and corporations must follow to obtain KI consent before carrying out any activities which could impact KI lands and environment.”
This past summer, the Council of Canadians noted to its members that the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation had passed a ‘Water Declaration’ in a community referendum that calls for Big Trout Lake and watersheds to be protected from all industrial uses that disrupt, poison, or harm the lands and waters. Chief Donny Morris stated then that he hopes to take this declaration to the United Nations. The Council has been working to assist the KI FN to get this declaration to UN representatives.
The news report highlights, “Government officials have told the band that they are powerless to stop God’s Lake from working their claims in spite of bands indigenous title, and spiritual connection to the area. …KI states in a news release that it wants God’s Lake to suspend its project; apologize to the community; agree that no further work be done until a process to identify and protect the sacred sites, burial sites, the cemetery and other community interests in the project area is complete; KI protocols are complied with; and the mining exploration moratorium is lifted. …’Ontario must respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, supported by Canada, which states that free, prior and informed consent is required from First Nations. This province is failing to recognize First Nation jurisdiction over our homelands’, (says Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy).”
The Council of Canadians continues to stand in solidarity with the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation.