Four Ontario First Nations call on Ford to address concerns over mining claims


TORONTO — Four First Nations in northern Ontario are calling on Premier Doug Ford to meet with them to address concerns about mining exploration companies intruding on their lands.

Grassy Narrows, Wapekeka, Neskantaga and Big Trout Lake First Nations say they’ve formed an alliance to defend their lands and waters after mining prospectors staked thousands of new claims on their territories over the last few years.

The First Nations say the current mining system in the province allows companies and individuals to stake mining claims on First Nations lands without the consent of Indigenous people who live there.

Grassy Narrows First Nation, about 100 kilometres northeast of Kenora, Ont., says it has seen about 4,000 such claims on its lands since 2018.

The residents of Grassy Narrows have grappled with long-standing mental and physical health issues after a paper mill dumped tonnes of toxic mercury in the nearby English-Wabigoon River in the 1960s.

The Ontario government didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.