Consultation process flawed in nuclear industry

Dear editor,

A recent declaration by four Treaty 3 First Nations here in NW Ontario has declared they will demand the province of Ontario stop what they call the free entry into their homelands by mining companies carrying out mineral exploration. Protection of their homelands and watersheds are at the forefront of their demands. A provincial government spokesperson in the resource sector said the Ontario government was committed to reconciliation, building positive relationships and advancing opportunities in the resource sector. The spokesperson also stated the provincial government is committed to consultation on all such resource projects across the province.

Nothing could be further from the truth! The nuclear industry under the auspices of both Federal and Provincial governments has managed to have vast tracts of Crown Land within Treaty 3’s traditional homelands withdrawn from any development or industrial activity with the exception of looking for a place to dump radioactive toxic waste. This withdrawal of Crown Lands was done quietly under the watch of former provincial Liberal Minister of Northern Affairs and Mines Michael Gravelle. There was seemingly no consultation with First Nations nor the public in general. There was no environmental assessment in withdrawing these lands.

Is it any wonder First Nations have a major distrust of our political masters? Is it any wonder why people become so cynical in the way governments work or more appropriately, do not work. To make matters worse we have the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) doling out millions of dollars in their quest to get approval from First Nations to say yes to a nuclear waste dump. Not only could this be viewed as morally wrong, it has been divisive amongst the various First Nations in Treaty 3. While many Treaty 3 members have stated they are against any nuclear waste being dumped in their territories, Grand Council has signed an agreement with NWMO to accept millions of dollars to “learn more”.

Not only is this a slippery slope to dependency on the “wellness” money the NWMO doles out but it gets harder to say no, the more money they receive from NWMO. Of the four First Nations who formed an alliance it is Grassy Narrows, who should be most concerned. They have already experienced a major disaster in their watershed caused by dumping mercury which is still an ongoing issue and now they face the possibility of having highly toxic radioactive waste being dumped within their watershed.

So much for public consultation never mind the rights of First Nations.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

James Kimberley
Atikokan Ontario