Government & Industry steam ahead on Ring of Fire developments, while First Nations are left waiting on the Platform

THUNDER BAY, ON, Jan. 13 /CNW/ - With daily news releases being issued by Ontario, the mining industry and regional municipalities about developments in the Ring of Fire, the local Matawa First Nations seriously question why they have not been consulted about decisions that directly impact their people,  communities and way of life.

The nine Matawa First Nations Chiefs, including Marten Falls, Webequie and Neskantaga First Nations, recently held an emergency meeting to discuss the lack of government and industry consultation in the planning and development processes taking place in the Ring of Fire. "To our knowledge, there is not one single advanced exploration or mining agreement in place between any of our First Nations and any mining company that is exploring in the Ring of Fire area." says Chief Roy Moonias.

Continues Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation; "While regional municipalities from Thunder Bay to Sudbury compete for site selection for the smelter facility and construction route of a transportation corridor into our traditional territory, our First Nations who actually live in the Ring of Fire, have not yet been invited to the table to even initiate discussions over community impacts."

Currently Aroland First Nation is lobbying to get the smelter near the First Nation community, signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Greenstone.

Close to 100 mining companies have staked claims in the Ring of Fire, home of the world`s largest chromite deposit, and several companies are reporting that they are in advanced stages of exploration. The Ring of Fire is located in the traditional territories of several Matawa First Nations who have been raising concerns about the impacts of exploration and mining on their communities for a number of years. Concerns are based on the escalating impacts of a wide range of issues including socio-economic impacts, environmental impacts such as water quality, clear cutting and impacts to wildlife populations. More recently, the concerns have also focused on potential benefits such as employment, new business and training opportunities for local people.

"Consultation means coming to our communities to talk to local people - youth, Elders, trappers, about how a mining development or railway could affect our ways of life or community. Our people only learn about what is happening in their backyards through the media or when they see it with their own eyes when they are out on the lands;" says Chief Cornelius Wabasse of Webequie First Nation.

Matawa First Nations have continually asserted that they do not oppose responsible development in their territory and that they recognize the potential benefits for their communities and the Northern Ontario region as a whole.  What the Matawa Chiefs are demanding is that exploration agreements be negotiated with each impacted First Nation individually or collectively and that process be properly funded by the government and industry.  These agreements must be in place before any development proceeds.

Continues Chief Roy Moonias; "Today our concerns are manifesting themselves as formal resolutions to the Government of Ontario and Industry to properly consult with us and to accommodate our concerns, but if they continue to ignore us, we are willing and prepared to intervene and take this to the highest level of accountability as First Nations and as a regional group."

SOURCE Matawa First Nations

For further information:

For the full media release and further information please contact:

Amanda Bay
Communications Officer
T- (807) 767-4443 Ext#223

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Matawa First Nations

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