Since it was elected in 2018, Ontario’s Conservative government has facilitated the acceleration of corporate exploitation of Indigenous territory in the province.
After declaring that he would “drive the first bulldozer” into the mineral-rich Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario, Doug Ford has allowed prospectors to stake thousands of new claims on First Nations’ land without the consent of the Indigenous people living there. Last year, he named as Minister of Mines long-time gold industry executive George Pirie, who quickly introduced measures to speed up mine development in Ontario.
Ontario law does not require prospectors to give notice to First Nations until after claims are already in force. By that time, the prospector already has the legal right explore for minerals and is deemed to own any wealth they find.
First Nations have repeatedly sought to meet with Ford, to discuss their concerns about mining and resource extraction on their territories, but the premier has consistently refused.
Most recently, Ford refused to meet with chiefs from First Nations in the Land Alliance – an historic agreement which unites the Neskantaga First Nation, Grassy Narrows, Wapekeka First Nation, Muskrat Dam First Nation and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) – who traveled from Northern Ontario to Queen’s Park and invited the premier to meet with them on September 26. Ford’s refusal is all the more insulting since it was made just days before National Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.
The Land Alliance had offered Ford a declaration to sign, which would have committed the government to ending mining activity on Indigenous lands without free, prior and informed consent. The right of First Nations to such consent is recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Disgracefully, Doug Ford refused to meet with the Land Alliance leaders and instead offered his Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford. The First Nations turned down the offer from Rickford, who said that the government’s job was to “balance the interests of all First Nations.” It is insulting to Indigenous people for the government to claim this while it refuses to meet with First Nations leaders or comply with international legal principles in UNDRIP.
The Ontario Committee of the Communist Party of Canada strongly condemns the Conservative government’s trampling of Indigenous rights and stands in full solidarity with the Land Alliance and its defence of land rights against resource extraction.
The Communist Party calls for:
- The immediate and just settlement of all Indigenous land claims.
- A halt to all current corporate, private or public development on Indigenous lands, unless there is free, prior and informed consent.
- Recognition of Indigenous self-government and self-determination, up to and including the right to secede.
- Implementation of all 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the 231 Calls for Justice in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Equitable standards and government funding, at a minimum, for housing, job creation, quality education and healthcare for Indigenous people living on or off reserves.
- The immediate cleanup of poisoned Indigenous land and water, just compensation for the people and families who have suffered, and prosecution of corporate perpetrators of this pollution.
Ontario Committee, Communist Party of Canada – Oct 1, 2023