To the Editor:
Re: Ring of Fire, Bill 191, and Indigenous Treaty Relations.
I am responding to the Ring of Fire article published in the Sept. 2 edition of Wawatay News. It raised fire alarm bells because production in the Ring of Fire will cause such environmental damage and dispossession of Indigenous peoples’ territory.
This development violates our treaty rights espoused in Treaty 9. I am concerned about the rapid pace of this project especially when the Cree and Ojibway Nations have not been fully consulted yet, nor have they given their consent. There are 48 Indigenous treaty partners affiliated with Treaty 9 of 1905/06, and its adhesion in 1929/30. All these communities agreed to share the land and its natural resources with the Crown. By virtue of this treaty, the Cree and Ojibway Nations agreed to share with each other as well, of the newly created territory which was demarcated as the Treaty 9 area.
Any development in the treaty area impacts the treaty rights of every Indigenous person who lives within this area and also entitles them to a fair share of the benefits, regardless of where the development occurs. The Ring of Fire impacts our treaty rights.
The Victor Diamond Mine, Musselwhite Mine, Bill 191 initiatives dispossesses our lands and natural resources and infringes upon our inherent and treaty rights.
I am reminded of the 1970s, when Reed Paper Company proposed clear cutting a large tract of land above the 50th parallel which engulfed many Treaty 9 communities. NAN, or Grand Council Treaty Number 9, as it was known then, mobilized its leaders and community people to fight this endangerment of the people, environment and its homeland. This approach was based on unity and strength gaining momentum ultimately defeating Reed Paper and the Ontario Government.
Bill 191 and the Ring of Fire pose a greater threat to our homelands. The ulterior motive is to dispossess our jurisdictions and wealth.
We need to ensure our environment is well protected and our people have a share in the monetary benefits of our natural resources. This assurance is not there. The Ontario government and its proponents are proceeding with Ring of Fire without due diligence. Bill 191 has been passed into law.
In terms of the Ring of Fire, the Ontario government must cease its activities and suspend the project development until all the Indigenous treaty partners have been consulted and have provided their consent. The project will have global effects in the Treaty 9 area, with such tremendous unknown impacts to the surrounding environment and its Indigenous peoples.
Northern Development Mines and Forestry Minister Michael Gravelle’s comparison of Ring of Fire to the nickel discovery in the Sudbury basin is testament to the environmental, social and economic consequences this operation will have for the next 100 years.
Let’s correct the injustices of the past 100 years, including compensation of lost revenues and opportunities, before we allow this project to occur.
Where are the people who fought Reed Paper in the 1970s?
Wunnumin Lake First Nation
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