Treasury responds to WLON protest

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Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation members picket the entrance to the Treasury Metals site, on the Tree Nursery Rd. near Wabigoon, Jan. 24. Photo submitted

By Ally Dunham

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation (WLON) council authorized a peaceful demonstration in order to reflect their disappointment with the manner that they believe Treasury Metals has dealt with their First Nation.
According to council at WLON, the group has been trying to initiate a negotiation process with Treasury Metals Incorporated to address the issue of mining exploration activities within the traditional territories of Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation and says an impasse has been reached.
As per the WLON council-issued press release, a facilitated meeting with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and Treasury Metals took place on January 12, 2012 but yielded no movement or indication by Treasury to respect outstanding issues and deal substantively with the First Nations community.
WLON is requesting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on consultation and accommodation from Treasury Metals, but says Treasury did not meet the deadline of January 19 to respond.  WLON says the MOU establishes a positive relationship going forward in addition to offering remedies for impacts on the rights and interests of their First Nation.
Treasury Metals CEO and president, Martin Walter said, “We are fully engaged, and fully open toward discussions with Wabigoon Lake and we have been for the past number of years.  We’re working towards what I would call a very good, strong MOU and the company (Treasury Metals) wants to make sure we address all the issues and we are addressing all the issues as we speak.”
“We’ve hired Norm Bush, and he’s stepped in as our Vice President of Operations for Dryden.  He’s a professional and he’s going to take on everything in terms of operations from being the lead negotiator, and being the face of the company in Dryden,” said Walter.  “He’s fully in charge and that puts him also at the forefront of any negotiations with all stakeholders, including any First Nations.”
Walter says Bush is currently away, and had plans already established for this time off, before coming out of retirement to accept a position with Treasury and will return early February.
“There was an impasse between the parties, but it’s an impasse that our company fully wants to move forward on, wants to move past and we are developing an MOU that does address in detail, lots of opportunities in terms of employment and training for First Nations,” said Walter.  “Not only that, we want to be a company that is a good social citizen and offer training for everyone.  To bring a project like the Goliath project along in Dryden, and if the project keeps developing the way it is, the exploration drilling keeps being successful, and we have the same sort of success we did last year, then everything is looking very positive for the project.  This will be a very good opportunity for the community of Dryden.”
Wabigoon Lake First Nation Chief, Ruben Cantin Sr., could not be reached for comment.

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