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.
Sara Abraham, University of Toronto
Naomi Adelson, Associate Professor, York University
Amanda Aziz, National Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students
Harald Bauder, Associate Professor in Geography, University of Guelph
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
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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