Mistissini Cree Nation – November 23. The message was clear – reject Strateco Resources’ proposal for an advanced uranium exploration project at its Matoush site In the Otish Mountains.
The message came from Mistissini Chief Richard Shecapio, from MiningWatch Canada, from the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, from Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and from individuals living in Mistissini and from southern Québec who traveled here for the first of two public hearings on the proposed project.
The first to present was Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada. Mr. Hart highlighted a number of fundamental weaknesses in the proponents justification and impact assessment for the project giving examples of several assertions made by the company that were not backed up by evidence. Two of the most serious flaws, in Hart’s view, were the failure to address how the 2.4 km underground ramp would interact with groundwater and the failure to provide information about the mine Strateco hopes the advanced exploration project will lead to. He quoted information from an April 2010 document, not included in the environmental impact statement, that 2-million tonnes of tailings would be dumped into two nearby lakes. “These are the kinds of issues we should be discussing now,” said Hart.
Gordon Edwards from the Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility reviewed aspects of the project documents for MiningWatch. He pointed to the companies failure to provide information on basic aspects of radiation and its hazards while identifying important errors in the calculation of the concentrations of radioactive materials in the rocks from the project site.
In his address, Chief Shecapio was critical of Strateco for their failure to provide adequate information, answer the community’s questions and to gain their trust. He expressed his community’s concern over the potential for lasting impacts to wildlife and about the proximity of the project to a newly formed national park. The lack of care taken in developing their impact statement made him question how careful the company would be in implementing the project. He also stated that the mining of uranium would go against fundamental values of the Cree.
Thomas Coon, a Cree elder made an eloquent and passionate speech comparing the feeling in the room to the feeling in the community when it was faced with massive hydro-electric developments in their territory. He described it as: “the feeling of fear, the feeling of threat, the feeling of uncertainty that something is going to happen to our land, the land that we love.”
Of the 10 presentations made to the panel tonight, none were supportive of the project. A second hearing is planned for the Town of Chibougamau on Thursday.
For additional information:
Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
cell: (613) 614-9937