Urge the Province of Ontario to Stop Licensing the Plunder of First Nations Land

We, the undersigned, are writing to urge the Province of Ontario to end its complicity in the theft and plunder of First Nations land. Specifically, we ask that the Province stop providing licenses for resource extraction from lands currently in the Federal land claims negotiation process. Recent proposed changes to the Federal Specific Claims land claim process have been proposed and may expedite negotiations on some claims. The large majority however, will not qualify for the "fast track." While claims languish for years and even decades at Federal negotiating tables, Provincial licenses continue to be issued for the very land and resources that are being talked about. In 1995, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte near Belleville, Ontario filed a specific claim for land known as the Culbertson Land Tract. In 2003, the Federal Government acknowledged that the Culbertson Tract had never been surrendered and was in fact Mohawk Land. It was not until late 2006 that negotiations for the return of these lands to Mohawk use and control began in earnest. Despite acknowledgment by the Federal Government that the Mohawks are the rightful owners of the Culbertson Tract lands, the Ontario Ministry of the Natural Resources continues to issue a provincial license to an Ontario company called Thurlow Aggregates. The license allows Thurlow to operate a quarry and the removal of 100,000 tons of gravel annually - or roughly 300 truckloads a month. Although the Mohawks have repeatedly attempted to have the quarry license revoked while negotiations are underway, the Province continues to maintain that it has no jurisdiction to consider the fact that the Aggregate is on land currently under Specific Claim negotiations. Conveniently, the Federal government maintains that it cannot deal with ongoing resource extraction because licensing is a provincial issue. The positioning of the Feds and Province on the Culbertson Tract Aggregate is emblematic of a deceitful and shameful game of "hot potato" played over First Nations land and resources year after year all over Ontario and indeed the country. If a homeowner suffered a home break-in and robbery, we would not expect him to allow the rest of his belongings to be removed, while, for the next 10 years or so, the value of the items already stolen were determined. Why then are such scenarios permitted when it comes to the Land Claims process Not only does it indicate bad faith in land claims negotiations, it is a needless instigator of conflict and confrontation. When negotiations allow such basic unfairness to continue, it can come as no surprise when First Nations people create physical impediments to halt resource extraction, as the Tyendinaga Mohawks have done through their ongoing occupation of the Culbertson Tract Aggregate. We implore the Provincial Government to revoke the quarry license on the Culbertson Land Tract and thereby commit to negotiating land claims issues in good faith and to honest governance for all Ontarians. We also strongly encourage the Federal and Provincial Governments to engage in meaningful dialogue to end the exploitation of First Nation lands and resources. We are aggrieved to say that the status quo appears to be a twenty-first century perpetuation of a dismal history of policy that has done great injury to First Nations people and communities. Signed: Sara Abraham, University of Toronto Naomi Adelson, Associate Professor, York University Amanda Aziz, National Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students Maude Barlow Harald Bauder, Associate Professor in Geography, University of Guelph Angad Bhalla Professor Meyer Brownstone, Emeritus University of Toronto, Emeritus, Oxfam Canada Susan Crean, Author Raj Dhaliwal, Director Human Rights, Canadian Auto Workers Professor Kari Dehli, OISE Wendy DesMoulin-DeMerchant, Canadian Metis Council, Division for Nova Scotia Bill Freeman, Author Anthony Hall, University of Lethbridge Buzz Hargrove, President, Canadian Auto Workers Union Dr. Teresa Holmes, York University Kahentinetha Horn, MNN, Mohawk Nation Hanna Kawas, Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver Naomi Klein, Author Alex Latta, Department of Global Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University Wayne Lessard, B.A., LLB, Corporation of the City of Windsor Avi Lewis, Broadcaster Dr. Andrea Medovarski, York University Paul Moist, National President, CUPE Ottawa Professor Liisa L. North, York University Dr. Peter Nyers John Opia Paraguanex Montanez, United Confederation of Taino People Claudette Paul, Office Manager, Roach, Schwartz & Associates Dr. Alja Pirosok, York University Dr. Sherene Razack, OISE Judy Rebick, Chair, Gindin Centre for Social Justice, Ryerson University Robert Ross for the Metis Nation of North America Joanna Santa Barbara, Centre for Peace Studies, McMaster University Professor Donna Schatz, York University Dr. Aparna Sundar, Ryerson University Dr. John Simoulidis, York University George Sorger, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biology, McMaster University Alissa Trotz, University of Toronto Dr. Mark Thomas, Department of Sociology, York University Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Assistant Professor in Native Studies, University of Toronto Professor Walter Whiteley, York University Dr. Cynthia Wright Ismail Zayid, President, Canada Palestine Association

Sponsor

We are supporters of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and their struggle to preserve the integrity of the Culbertson Tract lands, and individuals opposed to the theft and plunder of First Nations land.

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