Man says government blocks mine company from making repairs

Canada’s problems with indigenous communities don’t end when an accident cuts short a soccer match or turns a minutelong field hockey practice into a moment of calamity.

Residents of Ontario’s Grassy Narrows First Nation who live under the shadow of a former gold mine are now contending with a spate of campfires that have been set up near a mine site and near the village. They also say cleanup crews working nearby are disparaging them with noise and swiping their food, according to a report in the Toronto Star.

To add insult to injury, the mine has taken an unusual step in the last few weeks, and the federal and provincial governments are stonewalling Canadian mining company Quintana Resources Inc. It has filed a complaint with the Ontario Ombudsman, arguing the company has not been given the chance to comment on Grassy Narrows. The company wants the Ombudsman to intervene, and the government has balked at the request.

Canada spends a lot of time and money on prosecuting environmental crimes, but rarely go after the culprits when it comes to doing a quick cleanup. This situation points to just how important government agencies are to indigenous communities — an essential subset of our country’s population who have been wholly neglected for decades. At a time when indigenous people need government to be supportive, they appear to be trying to obstruct the will of the community at Grassy Narrows.

The case at hand is right at the forefront of my mind now that the Pickton inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women is issuing its final report after a 13-year investigation, and that I will be spending a week with a Grassy Narrows woman on a panel with her daughter at TEDxCentralOntario’s.

By Michelle Bourbeau, Calgary Herald

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