‘Your policies don’t apply here’, KI Chief tells Ontario
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) Chief Donny Morris issued a stark warning to the Ontario government via a Youtube video earlier this month, saying that the “only recourse” northern First Nations have is to keep mining companies out of the territory.
Morris posted the video to show his community’s support for Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike and the ongoing Idle No More protests happening across the country.
“What you see going on here with Native people is no different than what is going on overseas,” Morris said, citing the Arab Spring uprising taking place in the middle-east. “They want a fair shot at a good life with their own monies, own people, democracy and all those things.”
Morris said the fact that First Nations have for too long watched resource companies exploit the resources of traditional lands and send royalties and other benefits to the provincial and federal governments.
“It’s really hindering us to grow when its only two treaty parties benefiting,” he said. “What about the third treaty party, us, the Aboriginal people?”
The KI chief, who gained national recognition during his opposition to the mining company Platinex in 2006 that landed Morris and five other community leaders in jail for three months, said remote First Nations are watching the Idle No More protests and wanting to be involved.
“We don’t have highways or railroads,” Morris said. “The only recourse we have is to tell the Ontario government ‘your policies don’t apply this far up north, get out of our territory.’
That’s what we have as northern chiefs – the mineral sector – and that’s what we’ll be telling the government, ‘you have no jurisdiction’.”
KI forced the provincial government to remove over 23,000 square kilometers of KI’s traditional territory from mining exploration during its last conflict with the mining industry. In a battle that started in 2010 when KI membership discovered God’s Lake Resources exploring on traditional land without having informed the community, the First Nation managed to expel God’s Lake from the region and force Ontario to remove the land from future exploration permitting.
In the Youtube video, Morris once again put KI’s supporters in southern Ontario and across North America on alert that more action may be needed. Since the 2006 fight against Platinex, KI has built and maintained a network of organizations and individuals that support the community’s efforts to protect its traditional lands.
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