Earthroots calls on McGuinty to respect KI First Nation water protection

Media Release

Toronto – Yesterday Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KI) voted overwhelmingly in favour of protecting their entire watershed from all industrial activity.  In a community referendum, 96% of voters supported the KI Watershed Declaration which applies to a vast 13,025 square kilometer area of boreal lakes, rivers, forest, and wetlands in KI Homeland that is over 20 times the size of the City of Toronto.  The Watershed Declaration is intended to protect the 661 square kilometer Big Trout Lake and the watersheds of all rivers which flow into and out of the lake.

“Far too many First Nations communities are forced to suffer from industrially contaminated water sources,” said David Sone of Earthroots.  “Earthroots fully supports this visionary decision by the Elders, citizens, and leadership of KI First Nation; a decision that will benefit all Ontarians.  We call on Premier McGuinty to act swiftly to recognize and respect KI’s decision to protect their water and, if necessary, we will take action with KI to help defend their life-giving watershed.”

In 2008 six KI leaders were jailed for refusing to allow mining exploration that the community feared could contaminate Big Trout Lake.  After massive public outcry an appeals court released the jailed KI leaders and in 2009 the province bought out the Platinex mining claims in the area and promised never to develop them without KI’s support.  But other mining companies continue to stake claims on KI Homeland without KI consent, raising the possibility of further strife.

The remote fly-in community is taking proactive steps to prevent further resource conflicts by clearly delineating areas off limits to industry, and the process which industry and government must follow in respectfully discussing potential resource projects with KI.

The KI Watershed Declaration states “We declare all waters that flow into and out of Big Trout Lake, and all lands whose waters flow into those lakes, rivers, and wetlands, to be completely protected through our continued care under KI’s authority, laws and protocols… No industrial uses, or other uses which disrupt, poison, or otherwise harm our relationship to these lands and waters will be permitted.”

“The Walkerton Inquiry led to new legislation like the Safe Drinking Water Act which mandates the protection of community drinking water sources across the province, including in the North,” said Amber Ellis, Earthroots Executive Director.  “Respecting KI’s decision to protect their watershed is a necessary step towards implementing the right of all people to have access to safe water.”

Contact:  David Sone, Earthroots - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 416-599-0152 x13

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