Members of the Kapuskasing Cree First Nation have set up a road blockade on Mileage 34 of Freddy Flatt Road, preventing members of Ontario Power Generation Corporation (OPG) and their sub contractors from performing any further preparatory work on the massive lower Mattagami redevelopment and extension project scheduled to begin in June.
The Kapuskasing Cree are demanding that the Ontario Government consult with them regarding the redevelopment and extension project on their lands. The Cree maintain that OPG is engaging in activities on or near sacred sites, on or near registered trap lines and throughout the traditional hunting and fishing territories causing extensive damage to their lands, culture and livelihood.
Kapuskasing Chief Gaius Napash has said that the government has simply failed in its duty to consult with the group.
“Once again, the government of Ontario is allowing its own crown companies to engage in massive construction projects on Aboriginal lands,” said Chief Napash. “Doing this without properly consulting with the Aboriginal people who subsist off the lands and who have inhabited the lands since time immemorial. We are the people directly affected and impacted by this project.”
The blockade was set up when members of the Kapuskasing Cree learned that OPG had commenced preparatory activities ahead of schedule and without their knowledge.
“We pressed for a negotiation resolution, in keeping with the recommendations of the Linden Commission, the Supreme Court of Canada and rule of law,” said Chief Napash. “Ontario simply failed to step up to the table. We can negotiate, we can litigate or we can maintain the blockade. It is Ontario’s call.”
Earlier this year OPG and the Moose Cree First Nation concluded the Amisk-00-Skow Agreement, allowing for consultation, compensation and jobs for Moose Cree members, Chief Napash said, adding that his people were not included in the discussions nor did they have anything to do with the agreement.
“We were left out of these discussions and we are the people directly impacted by this project,” said Chief Napash. “It is our traditional lands and our trap lines and hunting grounds. Moose Cree are 300 kilometres away and have no knowledge of these lands.
We rely on these lands for our food, medicine, sustenance and peace of mind. Our ancestors are buried here. We wish to ensure these lands are used for sustainable purposes.”