Dispute with IOC: Innu Chiefs in Europe to meet the shareholders of Rio Tinto

Dispute with IOC: Innu Chiefs in Europe to meet the shareholders of Rio Tinto

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UASHAT MAK MANI-UTENAM, QC, April 9, 2015 – With no end in sight in the dispute between the Innu of Matimekush-Lac John and Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam and the Iron Ore Company of Canada (majority owned by the mining giant Rio Tinto), the Chiefs of the Innu First Nations of Ekuanitshit, Matimekush-Lac John and Uashat mak Mani-utenam are travelling to Europe to inform the shareholders and international management of Rio Tinto, convened in London for the upcoming Rio Tinto shareholders’ meeting, that it is time that the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) respect the Innu people and pay its rent.

“Faced with IOC’s deplorable attitude, we have decided to directly confront the shareholders of Rio Tinto. We want to inform them that their subsidiary is not respecting our rights and our Aboriginal Title and that IOC’s mining activities are far from meeting the criteria and principles of sustainable development that Rio Tinto claims to abide by. In an ultimate attempt at reconciliation, we will ask for respect, justice and redress from the Rio Tinto’s shareholders,” explained the Chief of Uashat mak Mani-utenam, Mike McKenzie.

“Following legal victories at the Quebec Superior Court and at the Quebec Court of Appeal, which confirmed our right to sue IOC for the harm that it has caused to the Innu people, IOC continues to search for ways to hide from its responsibility rather than trying to find a solution and an honourable end to this situation. Worse yet, in a final attempt, IOC just recently asked the Supreme Court of Canada to take up the case”, added the Chief of Matimekush-Lac John, Réal McKenzie.

It is important to remember that the Innu have tried since 2010 to reach a reasonable agreement with IOC, just as they have successfully done with all the other mining companies that operate in their territory. The last few years have seen record iron ore prices and record profits for IOC, without the latter showing any real openness to making peace with the Innu. Rio Tinto (IOC) cannot, therefore, legitimately hide behind the current weak iron ore prices, especially knowing that Rio Tinto has been widely accused of having flooded the iron ore market, thus contributing to weak prices.

“All companies that wish to develop the resources in our territory must first obtain our consent. In addition, they must pay rent for occupying our territory. For over 60 years, Rio Tinto (IOC) has ignored the rights of the Innu and has acted as it sees fit, neglecting to treat us with even the slightest amount of respect. The time has come for IOC to pay its rent”, stated the Chief of Ekuanitshit, Jean-Charles Piétacho.

“Pay The Rent” Campaign

The Innu delegation will be in London, United Kingdom, April 14 to 17 where it will attend the Rio Tinto shareholders’ meeting on April 16. It will also participate in public and private activities in Paris, France, April 18 to 20. This mission is part of a campaign called “Pay the Rent”, which is seeking to denounce the activities of a mining company owned by Rio Tinto that are blatantly violating the rights of Aboriginal Peoples, including their Aboriginal Title, as well as running afoul of current international law, particularly the principle of “free, prior and informed consent” as recognized by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In addition, these activities result in irreversible environmental impacts as well as damaging social and economic consequences for the Innu people.

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For information on this campaign: http://ioc-riotinto-innu.com/eng/

For further information:
Jean-Claude Therrien Pinette, Director, Office for the Protection of Rights and the Territory, Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam,
Tel.: 418-962-0327 #5245 / Cell.: 418-409-5681;

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Background: A History of Rio Tinto (IOC) in Innu Territory (PDF)

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