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First Nation leaders threaten to pull support for Ring of Fire

Friday May 11, 2012
NAN Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose speaks to Aboriginal Affairs minister Kathleen Wynne, front left, and Natural Resources minister Micheal Gravelle, front right during the press conference to announce Cliffs is going ahead with its Ring of Fire plans.
Ontario ministers Wynne and Gravelle answer questions.

First Nation leaders are threatening to pull support for mining in the Ring of Fire, after Cliffs Resources’ announced it plans to locate its chromite processing plant in Sudbury.

Cliffs announced on May 9 that the mining company will go ahead with the $3.3 billion Ring of Fire project, which includes the chromite mine east of Webequie, a transportation route running south from the mine site to connect to highway 17 near Aroland, and a ferrochrome processing plant in Sudbury.

The decision goes against the wishes of First Nations and municipal leaders in northwestern Ontario, who wanted to see the processing plant located in Greenstone.

“It’s obvious the province and Cliffs haven’t been listening to First Nations, and what their concerns and their aspirations are,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose. “Today is a classic example of development going ahead without adequate consultation, input and consent from our First Nations.”

Waboose said he will advise the chiefs of the area to look at reevaluating their support for mining in the region.

“Sure, you can have a smelter in Sudbury, but you still have to have a mine out there. And that’s something we all have to think about,” Waboose said. “I see (the announcement) as a step backwards. We need to get back and have some real discussions and real commitments from the province as well as from the company.”

Ontario’s minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Kathleen Wynne, held a press conference in Thunder Bay on the day of Cliff’s announcement. Wynne took the opportunity to encourage First Nations to come to the table and work with the province on ensuring future benefits for Aboriginal people.

“The decisions that have been made were the business decisions,” Wynne said. “The more formal conversations and consultations will now begin. Those engagements on the environmental issues, the engagements on the community supports, those have not been finalized.

“We need your best advice and your engagement on how do we make sure the training is in place, how do we make sure the upgrading is in place so people who want to participate can,” she added.

Wynne said the next step is to start tri-partite discussions between First Nations, the provincial government and the federal government on training and education programs to get First Nations people ready to work in the Ring of Fire.

Following the announcement, Webequie First Nation issued a statement saying it agrees that all parties must work together on a cooperative framework.

Webequie also stated that it will continue to pursue assurances from government and industry for a utility corridor to connect First Nations to southern infrastructure networks.

But Marten Falls First Nation Chief Eli Moonias said Cliffs’ announcement confirmed what his community feared – that the road network proposed for the mine will not connect to Marten Falls.

“Cliffs wants to build this corridor through the proposed railway survey done by KWG Resources,” Moonias said. “That’s 50 miles upriver from us. The corridor is not going to provide access for us.”

Moonias said his community believed that if they were able to get Greenstone and other First Nations on side, it would help get their community connected to the road network.

“Cliffs does what Cliffs wants to do,” Moonias said. “They don’t want to accommodate anybody, unless it doesn’t cost them a penny. Even Ontario does not dictate to them. They also do what the big company wants.”

Moonias said he will hold community discussions to determine whether Marten Falls still supports the mining projects in the Ring of Fire.

As for Waboose, he said First Nations leaders have to step back and evaluate what the Cliffs announcement means for future work between the province, industry and First Nations.

He said the issues go deeper than the Cliffs project, and strike at some of the big problems with development in the North in general.

“What we really need to look at is the larger issue of how development occurs in the north,” Waboose said. “We need to talk about resource revenue sharing. We need to talk about recognition of our jurisdiction up there. It is our land and we have a say in terms of what happens there, not just someone in Toronto giving permits and issuing licenses to developers without our permission and our consent.”

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so are they going to do if

so are they going to do if they withdraw support, write letters to the editor that carry no weieght, it is just sad. can't even stand together in unity to help our people.

I support the FN Chiefs in

I support the FN Chiefs in their struggle to fight for the natural resources located in our "backyard". The Ring of Fire is likley to be the first of many more mining opportunities still to come and if we allow the raw material to flow elsewhere for processing then this will become a common thread into the future. Or, maybe we are expected to simply sit in our rocking chairs on our front porches and watch those riches create the better jobs elsewhere.....this is the opportunity that we have been looking for in the Far North for so long, and now, one wonders what the full benefit will be. It is a complicated issue from many perspectives and it doesn't look good that Minister Bartolucci benefits with the smelter marked for his riding. It is also clear that Cliff's and the Government may not have been truly upfront in all of the ongoing negotiations related to this multi-billion dollar project, and if this is the case, how can those parties be trusted in paving the way to a better and more honest relationship with those that have walked this land for many generations. Keep up the fight with the hope that positive negotiations will continue to reaching an agreement that is best and most lucrative for all.

Chief Moonias is to be

Chief Moonias is to be commended for sticking to his position. Minister Michelle Gravelle (and Mrs Bartolucci) do not care about anything except licking the boots of big companies, and their own fat pension off the backs of the Ontario citizens they ignore. I for one support the F.N. and other locals whom want to keep the top end jobs locally.
Minister Bartolucci can just get more money out of his private slush fund ,the Northern Ontario Heritage Sudbury Fund and use that to continue paying off his fat cat supporters with preferential grants around Sudbury to pacify them.
I salute Cheif Moonias !!

Another example of not

Another example of not bargaining in good faith and not being open and honest with those that have walked these lands that we call the Far North for generations and who have remained hopeful that our turn to opportunity will one day be realized. The decision to establish the smelter to the Ring of Fire raw materials in Capreol is another blow to our hopes and dreams and an indication that we are not much of a consideration to being a valued partner in this Province. I am sick and tired of being dictated to by our "big brother" in the South as to what we can and can't do in our backyard. Granted the smelter decision is a difficult one that crosses over many complicated lines and boundaries, but simply sitting back on our front porches and watching the riches flow elsewhere for processing and better jobs is a difficult one to swallow. In addition, likely a precedent that for future mining opportunities and finds in the North a similar approach will be followed. It is also not a good thing that Minister Bartolucci will see a major employer set up shop in his riding. Folks at this end are upset and rightfully so, and today, the Federal Finance Minister (Flaherty) announced severe changes to the UIC Benefits do we break the cycle of such independence if seasonal employment is about all many can find. It is time to stand up and defend the North and what is harvested here should be processed here.To the many FN Chiefs locked in this struggle of negotiation and what should be good faith bargaining I, as should all Northerners be prepared to support and fight for our natural resources and a better tomorrow.

I don't know if I am missing

I don't know if I am missing something here. I have not heard of any meetings with the community members in the First Nation communities. Do the chiefs just go to the meetings and state their own concerns without the consultations of their own people ?
Wabosse is saying sure we can have the processing plan in Sudbury. This statement should not have been made without proper consultation of his people of the Nishnawbe Aski territory.

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