The last four years won’t be soon forgotten by Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), the People of Big Trout Lake. Especially now that the Toronto-based junior mining company, Platinex, who did everything in their power to develop a Platinum mine on KI’s traditional territory, has taken itself out of the picture. For good.
Earlier this month, the company reached an agreement with the Ontario government to surrender its mining claims on KI Territory in return for $5 million and a royalty stake in any future development in the region where the mine was proposed.
Following the announcement, KI Chief Donny Morris said, “I consider the decision of Platinex to not proceed with mining exploration in our territory as a major victory. My community was determined to stop Platinex and the Ontario government from arbitrarily imposing a mine at Nemeigusabins Lake.”
“But what is more important to the people of Ontario is what kind of arrangement the Ontario government will ultimately make with the indigenous peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib (KI),” he continued.
In addition to the settlement, the Ontario government has agreed to develop a Memorandum of Cooperation with the KI Chief and Council.
“The Memorandum of Cooperation will become a model of how future problems like this will not happen again. The province needs to know that mining is a very serious issue for us. We went to jail to protect our land and we were prepared to go back to jail if necessary. I think the province needs to recognize that our free prior informed consent is necessary or mining development in the north could become a very expensive failure, ” said Chief Morris.
The same could very well be said for all of Canada, since there are dozens of communities in the exact same boat as Big Trout Lake.
The territories, cultures, and rights of Indigenous People are equally trampled upon by the Canadian Government. Even despite dozens of court rulings, promises of “new relationships” and good-looking gestures too numerous to mention.
Perhaps that’s what makes this victory so important. Because it’s the exception to the rule. An example of responsible government, and the result of struggle carried out with integrity, for the people and the land.
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