KIPAWA, QUEBEC–ALGONQUIN TERRITORY–The Chiefs of the Wolf Lake and Eagle Village First Nations wrote to the Quebec government today indicating their First Nations are opposed to Quebec’s $1,000,000 investment in Matamec Explorations Inc. without consulting them about the company’s primary asset – the Kipawa Rare Earths Project, or about this latest decision to invest in the company. The Algonquin First Nations are now demanding a moratorium on the mining of toxic rare earths in Quebec,
The Algonquin First Nations believe the Kipawa project has the potential for significant negative effects on their Aboriginal rights and title, environment and culture and have never provided consent for the project to move to the development phase. Given the Algonquin’s assertion of Aboriginal Rights and Title and the recent Supreme Court decision in Tsilhqot’in – Quebec stands a good chance of loosing its substantial investment of public funds.
Matamec Explorations Inc. proposes the construction, operation and decommissioning of a rare earths open-pit mine about 40 kilometres east of the municipality of Kipawa on a territory where the Algonquin First Nations assert Aboriginal Title and Rights. The proposed project would process 1.3 million tonnes of ore per year over a 15-year operation period.
On July 6, 2012, the two First Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Matamec Explorations Inc. The main purpose of the MOU is to assist the First Nations in understanding the environmental, social and economic impacts of the project. Two major impact studies were completed for the First Nations through this MOU: 1) Algonquin Cultural Impacts Assessment and 2) Algonquin Social-Economic Impacts Assessments.
By law, Canada and Quebec still have a duty to consult and accommodate the two First Nations regarding any project approvals for this and any other proposed mine.
Eagle Village Chief Madeleine Paul stated today, “Quebec’s investment in Matamec is a breach of the legal duty to consult owed to our First Nations and this is not a way to build positive relations with the First Nations in Quebec. The results of our Algonquin cultural and socio-economic assessments already indicate that the Matamec Rare Earths Project will have an irreversible impact on our quality of life, our customs, traditions and access to and use of our traditional lands.”
Wolf Lake Chief Harry St. Denis also said, “there has never been a Rare Earths mine in Canada and the federal and provincial governments don’t have any experience mining such toxic substances. Our First Nations will be seeking a moratorium on the mining of these toxic Rare Earth elements in Quebec. The BAPE Commission is already studying a moratorium on mining uranium in Quebec our First Nations support a moratorium on both the mining of uranium and Rare Earths in Quebec.”
As a start to their campaign the Chiefs of Wolf Lake and Eagle Village will be communicating their position regarding a moratorium on mining of Rare Earths to a Quebec Chiefs’ Meeting next week in Montreal, as well as to the BAPE Commission who are currently studying a moratorium on Uranium mining in Quebec.
Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.