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First Nations wait at Queen’s Park for Premier

By Randy Thoms Sep 26, 2023 | 1:06 PM

Five First Nations communities are at Queen’s Park expressing their concern about mining on their traditional lands.

Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows), Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (Big Trout Lake), Wapekeka, Neskantaga, and Muskrat Dam First Nations formed the Land Defence Alliance in response to the increased mining activity and the province’s desire to open up the Ring of Fire.

The group says thousands of mining claims have been staked on their traditional territories against their will.

Grassy Narrows Chief Rudy Turtle says there are 5,000 in their area alone.

“We weren’t told properly. Actually, they were given permission without any pre-prior and informed consent from us. So we’re not very happy about that,” says Chief Turtle.

“It’s just terrible,the way he has proceeded with these mining claims and activities that are going worth and around our territory. So we are here to tell him that we will not allow any activity in our territory. We will stand up to it.”

The group came to Queen’s Park wanting to meet with the Premier.

A meeting with Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford was offered but rejected by the First Nations leaders.

Turtle says they want to speak to Ford because he is the one who is setting policies for his government and has been promoting the province’s desire to proceed with the Ring of Fire and other mining activities.

Alex Moonias, an elder from Neskantaga, says they are prepared to take strong action to get that meeting.

“And if we have to stand up physically or take some physical action, then we’re going to do that. We’re going to be blockading, and he’ll have to meet us face-to-face if it comes to that. That’s not our preference. We prefer that we sit at the table, and hopefully, he’s smart enough to do that,” says Moonias.

Members of the Land Defence Alliance have set up a table outside Queen’s Park, hoping Ford will sit down with them.