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Webequie hires Ring of Fire director

Thursday September 15, 2011

Michael Fox will engage mineral resource companies in the Ring of Fire as Webequie’s Ring of Fire senior director.

“We will be assembling our negotiating team and executing our community-based strategy with both companies (Noront Resources Ltd. and Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.) in the very near future,” said Fox, president of Fox High Impact Consulting. “We will also be engaging with Marten Falls First Nation at a council-to-council level for the mine sites developments. And we definitely look forward to continued discussions with regional First Nations on infrastructure corridor initiatives.”

Fox said two project descriptions for Ring of Fire corridors that have been officially submitted to government, an east-west corridor submitted by Noront and a north-south corridor submitted by Cliffs.

“Because we don’t know where the government sits in terms of both corridors or more than two corridors, we need to engage our neighbours around the impact on land as well as the impacts on community members around any potential corridor development,” Fox said. “We’re trying to structure a dialogue with those communities as well as make sure we all have the same understanding of what the impacts may be.”

Neskantaga, Webequie, Eabametoong and Nibinamik recently signed an agreement to develop an east-west corridor to the Ring of Fire mineral exploration area in the James Bay lowlands. (see story on page 6).

“I think the communities are realizing that it’s their land, it’s their resources and it’s their rights that are being impacted by any project development,” Fox said. “Together, through their community membership, they will find a way to strike that balance as well as benefits for their membership.”

Fox, who began his new position Aug. 29, said he had been working with Webequie on a part-time basis since the beginning of the Ring of Fire staking rush.

“But we realized that there was some full-time attention required for the volume of the work forthcoming,” Fox said.

Fox said there will be teams for each of the different initiatives, such as the regional process, land use planning and business development.

Webequie Chief Cornelius Wabasse said Fox’s strategic thinking, business acumen and community focus will be an asset for Webequie as it continues to develop its role in the Ring of Fire.

“Michael recognizes that agreements with companies and governments are premised on the community’s Aboriginal and treaty rights and that any impact and benefits agreement has to be ratified by the community members,” Wabasse said. “He brings this critical community-based approach to the business process.”

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