Stop Niocan’s proposed niobium mine on Mohawk Territory

Posted by admin on May 2nd, 2005

* see below for backgrounder and sample letter *

Monday May 2nd & Thursday May 5th
Phone : (418) 521-3911
Fax : (418) 643-4143, and
Email: ministre at

Who? Thomas Mulcair, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment & Parks

Why? Within the next few weeks, he makes the final decision on the project!

In solidarity with the community of Kanehsatake, Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement is urging all allies to participate in a coordinated phone, fax and email campaign against Niocan Inc.’s proposed niobium mine that is moments way from being developed within traditional Kanien:keha’ka territory. A loud and clear message must be sent to Mulcair, in his final hours of deliberation, that the municipality of Oka had no right to sell lands traditional to the Peoples of Kanehsatake, and the poisoning of Kanien:keha’ka land, water, animals and Peoples is clearly unacceptable to
many, and will not be tolerated. On Monday May 2nd especially, and on Thursday May 5th, let Mulcair know he will have no peace unless their is justice for the community of Kanehsatake. Refuse Niocan! Resist Environmental Racism! Reject Canadian Colonialism!


Niocan Inc., a Montreal based mining corporation, is nearing the final stage of approval for a mining project, entitled the “Oka Project”, to be developed within the traditional territory of the Kanien:keha’ka (Mohawk) people. The proposed location of this niobium mine is right next to the community of Kanehsatake and the Oka municipality. Community members have taken a clear stance on this issue – this destructive project will not be tolerated! In addition to the outright violation of the centuries old claim the Kanien’keha’ka people have on this land, the mine will also pose a serious environmental threat – resulting in the release of ionizing radiation and the contamination of air, soil and water.

Currently, Niocan is awaiting a certificate of authorization from Thomas Mulcair, the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks to give the project the go ahead – they are confident that this certificate will be granted.

Some key points that we would like to raise with the minister are:

– This is unceded traditional Mohawk territory that they have laid claims to and thus neither Niocan Inc. nor the Quebec government has any right to pursue any projects on this land.

– The project will result in the release of ionizing radiation (specifically, radon). There is no established safe limit of radiation and thus no guarantees that there won’t be health risks posed to residents. Furthermore, no environmental assessments have been carried out specific to the community of Kanehsatake.

The contact information for the minister’s office is again, as follows:

Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs
Édifice Marie-Guyart
675, boul. René-Lévesque Est
30e étage, Québec (Québec), G1R5V7
Phone : (418) 521-3911
Fax : (418) 643-4143
Email: ministre at

Sample letter:

ATT: Mr. Thomas Mulcair, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment
and Parks

RE: Niocan Inc.’s proposed Oka Project

Mr. Mulcair,

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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