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Grassy Narrows calls on Minister Rickford to withdraw mining activity from Grassy Narrows lands

March 31, 2022

Toronto – Grassy Narrows Chief Fobister is in the provincial legislature today where official opposition critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, Sol Mamakwa, questioned the Premier seeking to resolve the conflict over imposed mining claims and mining exploration permits on Grassy Narrows lands. The First Nation is calling on Minister Rickford to withdraw Grassy Narrows lands from mining activity. Since the current government took power, the area of Grassy Narrows land covered by mining claims has grown by 746%, now occupying an area twice the size of the City of Toronto. Grassy Narrows has declared their area to be an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area under Grassy Narrows law in 2018, and has placed a moratorium on industrial activity since 2007. Ontario has not respected this.

“Minister Rickford has allowed companies to stake for gold against our will on the land that Grassy Narrows needs to heal our people and restore our culture from the damage that mercury, industrial logging, damming, and residential schools have done,” said Chief Randy Fobister. “And yet, he refuses to talk to us about this threat to our rights and our health. It is long past time to stop trying to force industrial extraction on Grassy Narrows and to withdraw our land from mining and logging activity.”

On November 18, Grassy Narrows Chief Fobister met with Minister Rickford in Toronto seeking to resolve the growing conflict over mining claims granted by Ontario on Grassy Narrows lands. At the meeting, Minister Rickford refused to discuss mining and logging. Under pressure from the Chief, the Minister promised to visit Grassy Narrows soon to discuss mining and logging issues in the community round house. More than four months later, the Minister has yet to respond to requests to schedule a visit.

Grassy Narrows has written to invite Ontario to a table to resolve land protection issues at least eight times since Premier Ford was elected in June 2018. Ontario has yet to come to the table. At the same time, Ontario has proposed to open part of Grassy Narrows lands to industrial logging.

“I am inviting Ontario to join us now on the path of protection, healing, and reconciliation,” said Chief Fobister. “These mining and logging issues need to be resolved urgently so that our youth can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We should not have to fight again and again to protect our health, our land, and our way of life.”

On March 17, Minister Rickford released a Critical Minerals Strategy that includes a $24 million fund to support mining exploration.

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