UPDATED: LAC DES ILES MINE ROAD BLOCKED BY GULL BAY FIRST NATION
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(GULL BAY FIRST NATION, ON) – A road blockage has abruptly erupted on the road leading into Lac Des Iles mine earlier today. Access to the road is blocked right at highway 527. Access to the mine is still available through Fenson Lake Road, although this road is an unkept dirt road which is only advisable to travel with a truck and competent driver. (UPDATED @ 6:00 pm JUNE 1st, 2018. FENSON LAKE ROAD HAS NOW BEEN BLOCKED.)

(UPDATED @ 7:58 pm JUNE 1st, 2018, Fenson Lake Road has been opened to free-flowing traffic again, as it was not apart of their territorial land, according to an insider. The road opening is alleged to be the outcome of discussions between the mine management and Gull Bay First Nations officials. We have heard that access on Fenson Lake Road is open, and will remain open, if it is blocked again, OPP can and will intervene, according to our source)

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Initial reports from employees at the mine have informed TRCCTB.COM that the road blockage has to do with the Gull Bay First Nations land dispute, in which the First Nation community is going to court over. The Chief states that the blockade will be in place until there is a meaningful deal in place or hell freezes over.

The court case indicates that the land is theirs, and was improperly calculated during the signing of the Robinson-Superior treaty of 1850. Gull Bay First Nation is situated on the west side of Lake Nipigon.

The chief of the reserve, Wilfred King has said that the reserve is currently 4 square miles, and should have been 10 times that size. Also, he said that the community will continue to exercise its inherent rights towards their traditional land until the mine satisfies a list of demands.

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Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada released a prepared statement that says “Honouring the treaty relationship, based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership, is important to this government and is key to achieving lasting reconciliation. The Government of Canada prefers negotiated outcomes wherever possible and we remain open to discussions on moving this case out of the Court process.”

Lac Des Iles mine, owned by North American Palladium, has been operating for 25 years. King has noted that Gull Bay has not benefited as it should have from the mining site, and that Gull Bay has not been respected. Working with middle management has been fruitless; according to King, they haven’t respected Gull Bay’s environmental concerns or worked with their business partners.

Gull Bay raised REAL concerns when the mine released tailings into the watershed in June 2015, after a sinkhole caved in the tailings pond. King further said that there was a more recent release of tailings, and his community wasn’t notified until hours later.

King points to various other mines who have reached satisfactory deals with neighbouring communities, and have excellent working relationships, which is what the aim of this movement is partly about.

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Gull Bays concerns have been feeling rejected lately, which has helped push the community to go to these lengths. King explains that they always have tried to negotiate with the mine in good faith, but enough is enough.

Lac Des Iles mine has had a healthy start to 2018, with over 1 million tonnes of ore mined, producing over 86 million dollars in revenue during January, February, and March of 2018.

**** UPDATE @ 6:04 pm JUNE 1sr, 2018, GULL BAY FIRST NATION HAS NOW BLOCKED FENSON LAKE ROAD. The original agreement was for Fenson Lake Road to be allowed access for employees to come and go. Employee traffic is now being re-routed through Upsala. All Sysco food deliveries have been blocked. Reports are coming in that some employees at the mine were heading into town in a couple pick-up trucks to get food for the remaining people that are on site.

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(UPDATED @ 7:58 pm JUNE 1st, 2018, Fenson Lake Road has been opened to free-flowing traffic again, as it was not apart of their territorial land, according to an insider. The road opening is alleged to be the outcome of discussions between the mine management and Gull Bay First Nations officials. We have heard that access on Fenson Lake Road is open, and will remain open, if it is blocked again, OPP can and will intervene, according to our source)

More information to come soon.

King pointed how the mine has made record profits recently, and that Gull Bay wants a deal that is enforceable, fair, and negotiated in good faith with a meaningful agreement.

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Emergency service vehicles have been allowed through the blockade, but no other traffic has been permitted from either direction since the blockade started.

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OPP have made a media release regarding the situation posted below:

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is advising motorists to be aware of a traffic disruption when travelling on the private access road to Lac Des Iles Mine. Lac Des Iles Mine is located approximately 112 kilometres north of Thunder Bay on Highway 527.

Protest activities have prevented the flow of traffic on the private access road to the Lac Des Illes Mine.

The OPP is working with those who have organized the protest to provide a safe and peaceful opportunity to exercise their lawful rights and to ensure public safety and order.

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