A First Nation in northwestern Ontario is seeking a court injunction to stop mineral exploration in an area of 100 square miles it wants to set aside as protected space for spiritual practices.
Ginoogaming First Nation will appear in Toronto Superior Court on June 1 to prevent prospector Michael Malouf from working in an area he considers a “sacred and cultural keystone area” within the traditional territory of the community.
Michael Malouf is president of Quaternary Mining & Exploration Company.
Ginoogaming is adjacent to the town of Longlac, 300 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay.
The First Nation also wants to prevent the provincial government from issuing an exploration license to another exploration company led by William Kerr.
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In a May 31 statement, Ginoogaming said it tried to avoid litigation by writing letters to Premier Doug Ford and Energy, Northern Development and Mines Minister Greg Rickford, offering interim protection and long term for this region.
The First Nation said its letters went unanswered.
The First Nation is represented by Kate Kempton of Olthuis Kleer Townsend LLP who has stated that Ginoogaming has the right to protect sacred areas which are not to be “desecrated by industrial development and exploitation”.
“Ontario tries to classify any burial or other sacred site as points on a map; that it is acceptable to develop all around and within a few yards of each. We seek to protect an entire area of over 100 miles. And while this case is pending, we are bringing this motion for an injunction to prevent the region and its values from being irreparably harmed by mining development in the meantime, ”Kempton said in the statement.
“We are trying to uphold our sacred and ancestral identity as a right,” said Sheri Taylor, vice-chief of Ginoogaming, in a statement.
“Our rights cannot be reduced to just harvesting the land. We have always been much more than that. We are one people, and not all of our rights to continue to survive as a separate people have been erased by the signing of a treaty. This is the time when the courts recognize that indigenous peoples are not two-dimensional. “
The junior mining industry considers this area to be part of the historic Geraldton mining camp, an area in northwestern Ontario that produced 3 million ounces of gold between 1934 and 1968. The area is considered under- explored by modern standards. The last gold mine in the area closed in 1968, but interest in the area was renewed with plans underway to build an open pit gold mine south of Geraldton on Highway 11 .