Webequie, Marten Falls and the province have reaffirmed their commitment to addressing issues related to development in the mineral-rich Ring of Fire deposit.
The announcement was made Sept. 16.
“I am very happy to come together with Marten Falls First Nation as neighbours in the Ring of Fire and seek to create a positive framework of understanding for our communities,” said Webequie Chief Cornelius Wabasse. “I look forward to working with Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry (MNDMF) in addressing issues and providing support for our communities associated with Ring of Fire opportunities and community-based land-use planning.”
Marten Falls Chief Eli Moonias added, “I am glad Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation are on the journey to establishing a community-based process in resolving the differences in overlapping traditional territories. Hopefully, we can begin dialogue with our other neighbours in this same fashion.”
The agreement reaffirms the First Nations’ and Ontario’s commitment to addressing issues related to the Ring of Fire.
The province calls the signing of the letter of intent the first formal step towards a Memorandum of Cooperation for mineral development issues, including land use planning in their traditional land use areas.
“The fact that we remain engaged with our First Nation partners to address issues around mineral exploration and development on their traditional land use areas speaks to the commitment of all parties to achieving a consensus with respect to benefiting from this enormously promising mineral find,” said MNDMF Minister Michael Gravelle. “I commend Chief Moonias and Chief Wabasse for taking an important leadership role in securing a more prosperous future for their people.”
The Letter of Intent acknowledges the need to develop a working relationship between the First Nations and the Ontario government, as it relates to potential impacts of proposed developments on their traditional areas. It builds on previous and ongoing dialogue between the parties to address outstanding concerns around development in the McFauld’s Lake area.
With more than 30 companies exploring in the Ring of Fire and estimates suggesting the possible potential for decades of chromite production, as well as significant production of nickel, copper and platinum, proper protocols must be in place, the chiefs said.
The relationship protocol signed between the communities and the province will allow for the beginning of joint discussions and collaborative planning on how to minimize impacts and maximize benefits for their community members within their adjacent traditional territories where the Ring of Fire mineral discoveries are located.
The relationship protocol reinforces the reality that companies and governments have to directly engage, consult, and accommodate the most directly affected First Nation communities, the chiefs said in a release.
Natural Resources Minister Linda Jeffrey gave credit to the chiefs for making the agreement possible.
“I want to thank Chief Moonias and Chief Wabasse for their leadership on this promising development initiative,” Jeffrey said. “The relationship between our government and Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation is a great example of what we can achieve when we work together. The Ring of Fire will help build a stronger economy and create jobs for First Nations communities in the North.”
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Chris Bentley said, “I am delighted at the collaboration of the parties involved as this sets a good example of what’s achievable when we work together to promote our common goals around economic development, skills training and job opportunities.
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