For the second time in a month, the Sandy fake First Nation in northern Ontario has turned down a request from the Ontario government to discuss mining development on its traditional land.

Sandy Lake told the Ontario Natural Resources Ministry it opposes a gold exploration project proposed by JVX Ltd., a company based near Toronto.

I was told by our people not to meet with them,” said Sandy Lake Chief Eli Sawanas in an article in Wawatay News. “There’s no point meeting with them. We talked about the same things several years ago and they’re not telling us anything significantly new.”

Some of the drilling is supposed to take place during winter months on the ice of Sandy Lake’s West Arm Bay. Chief Sawanas expressed concern about the effect this could have on the community’s drinking water and nearby fishing activity.

“The response is always the same,” said the Chief. “Our people don’t want mining development or exploration.”

The Sandy Lake people no longer go out to trap and hunt on the land for months at a time, but Chief Sawanas said all of the community’s traditional land is still being used during certain parts of the year. The Band Council is creating various programs to encourage Sandy Lake families to spend more time in the bush. One program offers assistance to families that want to repair their hunting cabins or build new ones. Work on about a dozen such cabins is currently underway.

Said Chief Sawanas, “We would like to continue that so people will continue to use the land we’re talking about.”