Wednesday, May 10, 2006

[Montreal] Protest Niocan Inc.'s Planned Niobium Mine on Mohawk Territory!


Demonstrate at Niocan's Annual General Meeting of Shareholders

WHEN: May 18th, 2006, 9:30am
WHERE: Best Western Hotel, 3407 Peel (corner Sherbrooke)
WHAT: Demonstrate Against Niocan's Annual General Shareholder's Meeting

Refuse Niocan! Resist Environmental Racism! Reject Canadian Colonialism!

Niocan Inc., a Montreal-based mining corporation, is nearing the final stages of approval for their "Oka Project", a toxic niobium mine to be developed within traditional Kanien'kehaka (Mohawk) territories.

Community members have taken a clear stance on this issue - they said the destructive project would not be tolerated! In addition to the outright violation of the centuries old claim the Kanien'kehaka people have to this land, the mine also poses serious environmental threats - the release of ionizing radiation which will contaminate the air, soil and water.

Niocan assured their shareholders they only invest and develop in politically stable regions. In solidarity with the Haudenosaunee Peoples from Six Nations to Kanehsatake, we gotta let the investing-class know: "The myth of political stability is over!" Investing in developments on stolen native lands has a price - and that price is the risk of bankrupcy Henco Industries is currently facing. The decolonization movement is growing and coast-to-coast People will rise up in solidarity with Kanehsatake!

bring noisemakers, placards, banners and your anti-colonial determination!


Last May, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Thomas Mulcair announced that Montreal-based mining company Niocan Inc. would have to provide more substantive environmental study results before he would issue the necessary certificate of authorization to move ahead with the company's niobium mining project on unceded Kanien:keha'ka (Mohawk) territory.

In a letter to shareholders on November 30, 2005, Niocan stated that the company is "reassess[ing] the hydrogeological studies to date and to propose a plan of action to provide answers to the questions raised by the professionals at the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parcs (MDDEP)." The report also reiterated Niocan's commitment to "move ahead with vigor and determination on the Oka Project."

The report to shareholders cited the recent Oka municipal elections as proof of community support for the project, stating: "the mayor and four councilors that support the Oka Niobium Project have been re-elected. This is further evidence of the support of area residents for the project." This, despite a press release issued last May 16th by the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) stating: "the commission learned through the public consultation process that the land on which the mine is located is subject to claims... [and] most public consultation participants are very concerned about the mining project, to which they did not consent."

Niocan's former Chairman and CEO René Dufour said "the Mohawks have nothing to do with this." But Dufour couldn't be more wrong. The land on which the proposed mine would be built has never been surrendered to the Canadian government, and thus neither Niocan nor the Quebec (an equity investor in the project to the tune of $427,000) have any legal right to continue with this environmentally devastating project. This is yet another gross example of the blatant violation of Native sovereignty in Canada. More studies and assessments will mean nothing. They simply cloud the real issue, which is one of violation of Mohawk land claims by the governments of Canada and Quebec and the huge corporations they keep close to them.

Currently, Niocan is awaiting a certificate of authorization from Claude Bechard, the newly-appointed Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment & Parks to give the project the go ahead. Niocan is confident the certificate will be granted.

If you can not attend the May 18th demo, please phone/fax or email your objections to Claude Bechard at:

Phone: (418) 521-3911
Fax: (418) 643-4143

A sample letter:

Attention: Mr. Claude BÉCHARD

We are writing to you to express our absolute opposition to Niocan Inc.'s proposed Oka Project.

This project would entail destructive practices on traditional Kanien'keha'ka (Mohawk) land - territory that they have laid claim to for centuries and continues to be disputed. Thus far, no efforts have been made on the part of the government or Niocan Inc. to consult with the people of Kanehsatake in regards to this mine. Despite Niocan's claims, the community remains adamantly opposed to the project. Regardless of the company's assertions that the Oka Project will result in a dramatic infusion of capital and jobs into the local economy, this operation is not environmentally, economically or culturally sustainable for the Kanien'keha'ka people. The Socio-economic study carried out by Niocan's auditors, KPMG, contained no recognition of these matters. The fact that the Quebec government has a $427, 000 equity investment in the project is not lost on community members and allies; nor is the fact that mining operations have historically targeted Indigenous lands and perpetrated violence, displacement and environmental racism.

We would also like to reiterate the environmental concerns that have been raised by members of both the Kanehsatake and Oka communities. Despite the BAPE's dismissal of the amount of radioactive material which will be released during the excavation, essentially, there is no established safe limit of ionizing radiation. Consequently, neither Niocan Inc. nor the government can guarantee the project will not have adverse health effects on those living in the area. Locals are already exposed to the highest national levels of radon gas - a well established carcinogen. Secondary to previous mining activities, radiation levels in some homes in Oka already exceed the relatively lax Canadian safety standards. There is no documentation as to what these levels are in Kanehsatake.

Besides release into the air, waste from the operation will be released into the local water system; the water table will also be used to supply the project. The far-reaching effects of all of these derangements on the local agriculture and way of life cannot be understated. Furthermore, the materials left behind in slags and tailings after the projected 17 year operation will continue to negatively impact the environment and future generations. In April 2000, 62% of the Parish of Oka voted against Niocan's project.

Approval of this project would result in serious violations of Kanien'keha'ka treaty rights and the rights of all local residents to health and security.

Therefore, in alliance with the communities of Kanehsatake and Oka, we demand that Niocan Inc.'s Oka Project proposal be rejected by your office.


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