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UPDATE: ‘Shout Out’ community resistance to ‘Ring of Fire’ agenda

The proposed ‘Ring of Fire’ mining zone in northern Ontario is located about 540 kilometres north of Thunder Bay in Matawa First Nation homelands and traditional territories. The Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation is located 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, just northwest of the Ring of Fire.

This weekend, the Globe and Mail reported, “Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is pledging to work closely with the federal government on its controversial overhaul of environmental assessments as he calls on Ottawa to play an active role in exploiting the untapped potential of the Ring of Fire. Mr. McGuinty is counting on mining exploration in the northern wilderness to lead to a new generation of prosperity for Ontario. Emerging economies in India and China have an ‘insatiable hunger’ for the province’s resource riches, he said on Friday in urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to help him open up the North. …Exploiting the Ring of Fire is in the national interest, Mr. McGuinty said in a letter to Mr. Harper, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail. The vast tract of land…represents a strategic economic opportunity for Canada and has the potential to rival Alberta’s oil sands, the letter says. …Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver pledged on Friday to work with the province to ‘unlock’ billions of dollars in economic activity…”

A media release issued in October 2011 states, “(Nine) Matawa Chiefs withdrew their support for development in the Ring of Fire… Matawa Chiefs are outraged that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is proceeding with (just) a Comprehensive Study EA. The Chiefs and their people have been calling for a (fuller) Joint Review Panel EA for five months but the government is still not listening.” Chief Roger Wesley of the neighbouring Constance Lake First Nation says, “We want development, but we also want to make sure that our lands, waters, wildlife, and our way of life are not destroyed in the process. The government is forcing us to take alternative action. They are not listening to us or consulting us in a meaningful way, and they are certainly not accommodating us.”

On Saturday June 2 at the ‘Shout Out Against Mining Injustice’ conference in Vancouver, Darryl Sainnawap, the Deputy Chief of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, will be speaking on ‘tools and strategies for community resistance and solidarity’ against mining injustice.

The CBC has reported, “One First Nation northwest of the Ring of Fire but still in prime mining country issued its own watershed protection plan in July 2011. Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug declared more than 13,000 square kilometres of land near their community off limits to mining companies and other industrial uses. It’s not the first time Kitchenuhmaykoosib has attempted to stop mining activity. Leaders from the community (including Sainnawap) were sent to jail in 2008 for opposing mining development on land now covered by the new watershed declaration. Eventually the chief and several councillors won their appeal and were released from jail. The province had to pay the mining company $5 million to drop its claims to mine in the First Nations territory. The provincial bureaucrat in charge of negotiations during that dispute has since been appointed by the Liberal government to head up the Ring of Fire development.”

To register for ‘Shout Out Against Mining Injustice’, please go to http://canadians.org/shoutout. For several campaign blogs on Ring of Fire mining exploitation, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22ring+of+fire%22. Opposition to Quebec premier Jean Charest’s Plan Nord, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14637, has been increasingly visible in the protests over the past weeks of the Quebec student strike as well as just prior to Earth Day in Montreal, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14733. In September 2011, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow challenged BC premier Christy Clark’s ‘plan’ to diminish environmental regulations to speed up the approval of eight new mines and the expansion of nine existing mines in the province, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10714 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10708.