I was reading over Rainy River Resources’ views on the Rainy River Gold Project environmental assessment process and I saw how they have nonchalantly placed native consultation and consent for the project within a planning reference statement: “plans to involve and seek feedback from Aboriginal community, neighbour, and other interested stakeholders.”
I have seen how First Nation elders have been brought to various mining sites and events as a promotional backdrop to the perception the native community is being consulted and support mining projects per se.
However, I have yet to see any co-ordinated effort by the FN leadership to examine the potential affects of gold mining on our waterways above and below ground in terms of polluting or depleting our water source, of which flow into the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods basin.
I also am unaware of any examination being completed on the effect a gold-mining operation could have on the wildlife habitat relative to our surrounding area.
And yet, the federal and provincial environmental assessment processes are proceeding concurrently which, in my view, basically are sanctioned instruments to rubber-stamp the shift of resource exploitation from wood to mineral extraction.
Except for potential labour benefits, all profits derived from mining operations will be destined to external stakeholders and investors of Rainy River Resources, with no payments identified yet in recognition of unresolved land title and ownership interests of the First Nations of Treaty #3.
I have not seen or heard of any guarantee from the governments of the Crown or Rainy River Resources that mining will not contaminate our water basin. And if it did happen, how would it be cleaned up and how would concerned interests be compensated?
I have not seen any Crown government fulfilling the duty to consult or engage concerns directly at the First Nation level in respect to gold mining on our traditional lands and territory.
Over these next couple of years, my attention is going to be directed amongst the First Nation community and on the requirement of consent being demonstrated via referendum by the people for the Rainy River Resources’ gold-mining project.
In my view, it is not enough for Crown governments or industry proponents to fund person year salaries or meeting expenses of political offices and leaderships in support of resource extraction plans (e.g., Rainy River Resources) without seriously taking a look at the true impacts.
This includes recognition of the collective land title interests of Treaty 3 First Nations, and providing the same with real opportunity to benefit from development and investment if that is what ultimately is approved by the Anishinabe people.
Rainy River F.N.