On 31 January, chiefs from Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation), Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), Neskantaga First Nation, and Wapekeka First Nation came together to announce their alliance to protect their lands. The chiefs signed a Mutual Cooperation Protocol which affirmed their “desire to live in peace with all peoples and governments” as well as their inherent right to govern their homelands.
The Protocol states the Nations’ opposition to the province of Ontario’s “free entry” system according to which mining prospectors can claim the right to explore land for minerals simply by filing a claim online, without consulting local communities or completing environmental assessments. Prospectors have filed about 4,000 mining exploration claims on Grassy Narrows territory since 2018, as the Ontario government promotes exploration for minerals such as lithium and nickel which are used in electronic vehicles. The chiefs assert that mining exploration should not be permitted without the consent of First Nations.
We pray in gratitude for the unity and leadership of these four communities in protecting their lands and waters for future generations. We pray for the healing of lands, waters, and people that have already been harmed by environmentally damaging resource extraction. We pray that a strong movement for Indigenous sovereignty may move Canadian governments to change their colonial policies and honour Indigenous people’s stewardship of the land.