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For Immediate Release– Solidarity with the Algonquin Nation

The Canada Nuclear Laboratory (CNL) commission approved the building of a Near Surface Disposal Facility [NSDF] on Jan. 9 2024 in unceded Algonquin territory approximately 180 km west of the nation's capital Ottawa in Quebec to bury contaminated materials and dispose of limited kinds of nuclear waste at the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories campus in Deep River, Ont. 

The site location is just over a kilometer from the Kichi Sibi, an area sacred to Algonquin peoples and at the heart of their unceded homeland.

In June 2023, Chief Lance Haymond of Kebaowek First Nation was joined by chiefs from other Algonquin communities in the area to denounce the then proposed project. Kebaowek, along with Kitigan Zibi, the Algonquin Secretariat and the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council which represents seven Algonquin Nations, demanded that the project, that will hold up to a million cubic meters of low-level radioactive waste in a massive mound, be abandoned.

For far too long, First Nation, Inuit, and Metis Settlement leadership has been disregarded and excluded from important decision-making processes. A Just Transition towards a clean economy requires economic reconciliation as a pillar for collaborative solutions to the various challenges that we face as a society. 

Iron and Earth’s First Nations researchers began conducting community-based research on the impacts of clean energy projects and Just Transition in the fall of 2023. This ongoing research is intended to provide First Nations, Inuit, and Metis community members with an opportunity to share their knowledge on what a meaningful, ethical transition towards a clean economy looks like, prioritizing self-determination and principles included within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. 

While clean energy technology provides a hopeful path forward towards energy and economic resilience for communities across Canada, the process still remains dependent on the disempowerment of Indigenous knowledge systems and traditional leadership. Through a review of  the UNFCCC 28 28th Conference of Parties gathering in Dubai, the Indigenous Environmental Network explains that false solutions “are fast-tracking a death sentence for Mother Earth and Indigenous Peoples who are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. These false solutions are nothing short of dangerous distractions, and are unproven techno-fixes that commodify Mother Earth – a violation of the sacred.”

For the Kebaowek First Nation, nuclear waste disposal is being promoted as a false solution.  

In response to the NSDF approval, Kebaowek First Nation is launching a judicial review of the decision by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. In its application to federal court, Kebaowek First Nation says the approval by the commission should be reversed adding that it “breached its duty to consult Kebaowek by failing to secure the First Nation’s free, prior, and informed consent, and by carrying out consultations in a procedurally unfair way.”

In the spirit of truth, the chiefs unveiled their Indigenous-led assessment of the proposed radioactive waste dump and the site’s impacts on culture, land, water, and wildlife.

It can be read through here:

Kebaowek First Nation informs Iron & Earth that “Despite concerns expressed by First Nations and increased support from over 140 municipalities across Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has granted the license for the NSDF project at Chalk River. [They] strongly condemn this decision and call on the federal government to intervene to stop this environmentally high-risk project.”

While CNL states that “Both the Government of Canada and CNL recognize that leaving the waste for future generations is not a sustainable option” they also state that the “design life of the facility is in excess of 550 years”, clearly indicating that there are contradictions with the intent to pass on the problems that we face now to future generations.

The Algonquin Nations traditional territory has never been ceded and the communities of Timiskaming, Wolf Lake and Barriere Lake remain in the position that “[their] rights have never been extinguished by treaty or any other lawful means [and] have never mandated any other group to negotiate these matters on our behalf.” The Algonquins of Barriere Lake (Mitchikanibikok Inik) also assert that “Now more than ever, it is crucial that our Ona'ken'age'win law is upheld and respected” 

How to help: 

  1. Donate to their legal fund;
  2. Sign their petition;
  3. Read Kabaowek’s Algonquin-led NSDF Assessment Booklet 
  4. Contact your Member of Parliament and urge them to take action against the NSDF and other projects which are taking place without the consent of First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities;

What Iron and Earth is doing:

  • Our First Nations research team is hosting interviews with community members on the Traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation to understand their views of a Just Transition towards clean energy and economic reconciliation, until March 31st, 2024. (Funded by the Government of Canada and other partners)
    • If you would like to participate in this research please contact [email protected] and we will be happy to plan an interview which you will be compensated for. 
    • At the end of this research project the raw data and findings will be presented back to community members so that next steps can be identified with those involved in the research. 

Document prepared for Iron and Earth by Dara Wawatie-Chabot with support from Erin Donnelly and Cassondra Barnaby 


Iron & Earth is committed to partnering with Indigenous workers to empower their communities to become self-sufficient in training programs, clean energy transition projects, and employment opportunities to combat environmental racism. It falls to all of us to continue the work of healing and reconciliation in our communities and our organizations. Our relationship with the land and the people who live here shapes who we are. It is in the spirit of reconciliation and honouring the past that we recognize treaties and agreements wherever they are and wherever we work.

We also acknowledge all peoples who live, work, and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.
As individuals and teams we may make mistakes along the way, but we are dedicated to growth, openness, compassion, and forgiveness. These principles in our work are essential to building successful and healthy relationships with individuals, communities, organizations, and governments.

We look forward to building a path to lead us to a better relationship with Indigenous nations and the environment around us based on peace, friendship, and respect.