The Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, near Oka, Québec, wants the federal and Ontario governments to reconsider plans by Colacem to build a new cement plant near L’Orignal and for more consultation on the project with his community.
On December 19, 2022, Grand Chief Victor Bonspille wrote to federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, who, on November 3, 2022, had rejected Action Champlain’s request for a federal Impact Assessment. Bonspille’s letter requests that Guilbeault immediately direct the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada to review the cement plant project until such time as the Crown in right of Canada has met its constitutional and legal obligations to consult with the Kanesatake community.
“Kanesatake is the closest of all First Nations communities to the project, located approximately 50 kilometers downwind and downstream from the project site, our community would be directly affected by adverse environmental impacts of the project potentially leading to negative health, social, and economic impacts on our community as well,” Bonspille wrote to Guilbault.
Bonspille told Guilbault that Kanesatake explicitly rejects the claim of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, made on November 22, 2022, that Kanesatake was consulted. As a result of that rejection, Bonspille also told Guilbault that the Crown is in breach of its constitutional duty to consult with the community about the project. The chief has requested a meeting with federal officials to begin the consultation process.
In his letter to Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks David Piccini, also dated December 19, 2022, Bonspille requested the minister direct ministry officials to suspend the 2019 Environmental Compliance Approvals for the proposed cement plant until the Crown has met its constitutional and legal obligations to consult with the Kanesatake community, and until an independent environmental impact assessment of the project has been carried out. Similar to his request to Guilbault, Bonspille also is requesting a meeting with provincial officials in Ontario to establish a consultation process.