It’s been almost two years since Moose Cree first raised preservation of the North French River in a letter to Premier Wynne and still no concrete actions have been taken. The river remains open to resource development activities including mining and claim staking. The longer Ontario delays, the greater the risks to the watershed.
This is why today Moose Cree and Wildlands League went public with an ad in the Toronto Star and other publications calling on Ontario to respect the Moose Cree declaration that the North French be protected from resource development activities forever.
Wildlands League stands with Moose Cree. Will you?
As the second anniversary of the letter fast approaches, it’s time for us to take stock. Why the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) delays withdrawing the lands in the watershed from prospecting, claim staking and exploration is a headscratcher. Even the mining exploration industry has said ‘we don’t want to go where First Nations don’t want us’ and major mining companies are respecting Moose Cree’s call. Why can’t MNDM?
Not only are withdrawals possible in Ontario see KI here but just this week President Obama in a bold move put hundreds of millions of acres in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans off limits to future oil and gas indefinitely. The President used a withdrawal to do it. Prime Minister Trudeau also acted decisively in designating all Canadian Arctic waters off limits to future oil and gas licensing subject to five year reviews.
The risks are clear: the longer Ontario delays withdrawing the North French from mining the greater the risk of someone physically staking more mining claims here thereby jeopardizing the river and its protection. Next year or shortly thereafter the risks could be even greater. Anyone anywhere in the world with a computer will be able to electronically stake in 70 million ha of land in Ontario that is open to mining as Ontario introduces online staking.
Protecting the North French would be a gift to the planet.
And Moose Cree has already done most of the heavy lifting. Forestry companies are largely respecting the call for no logging within the watershed. Moose Cree has launched its own conservation plan, with members monitoring the area to ensure that mining companies avoid staking claims and drilling there, and negotiating with others to reduce harm they may cause in managing a hydro corridor that transects the North French headwaters.
You’d think MNDM would want to be more proactive after what happened with Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), Platinex and God’s Lake Resources. See here and here. You’d think the Ministry of Natural Resources would want to help since the case for protecting the North French River is strong and compelling and would help it meet ambitious objectives it has responsibility for under the Far North Act and Endangered Species Act. But unfortunately you would be wrong in both cases.
The North French holds great carbon stores that must be maintained if Ontario is to meet its Paris climate commitments. Protecting it would also help Ontario toward reconciliation with Indigenous people. It’s time for Ontario to stand with Moose Cree and protect the North French. There are more than enough lands open for mining in Ontario. The North French River should not be among them.
Let Ontario know your views. Use #IStandwithMooseCree #ProtectTheNorthFrench and add your voice to this important discussion.
See Chief Patricia Faries’ recent comments to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.