THUNDER BAY, ON, Nov. 23, 2011 /CNW/ - The Chief and Council of Webequie
First Nation is reaffirming its community rights and local autonomy
with respect to decision-making processes in the Ring of Fire. Today,
Webequie First Nation released two independent documents; a Community Position Paper and a Consultation and Accommodation Protocol, which both clarify and outline for industry, government and the public
that the membership of Webequie First Nation will determine their own
community-led negotiated process as it relates to the traditional,
historic, ancestral, and customary areas of Webequie First Nation.
Chief Cornelius Wabasse of Webequie First Nation says; "Following recent
reports in the media and consequent enquiries, Webequie First Nation
would like to remind all those who wish to work with our First Nation
and, particularly commercial entities, that they must have direct
engagement and consultation with our First Nation before and above any
other agency. We, the Webequie First Nation people, are the primary
contact and exclusive decision-makers for our community, not any third
party or external organization."
Webequie First Nation is one of the two northern First Nations that will
be most directly impacted by the potential mining developments for the
Ring of Fire area. Webequie First Nation is a member community of the
Matawa First Nations Management Tribal Council, which was created to
serve First Nations.
In recent weeks, the Matawa First Nations Management Tribal Council has
been promoting a stop order on development in the Ring of Fire and
lobbying for a Joint Panel Review Environmental Assessment on behalf of
all the regional Matawa First Nations. Webequie First Nation supports
regional First Nations' concerns over the current Environmental
Assessment process but notes that the Matawa Tribal Council or any
other third party, is not a decision-making authority or community
voice for Webequie First Nation.
Continues Wabasse; "Matawa First Nations Tribal Council provides our
First Nations with important support services but it must be clearly
understood that its staff do not represent our First Nation membership
on community issues. Industry and government are required to engage
directly with our First Nation and it is the Webequie Council through
quorum who can legally commit Webequie First Nation to any type of
process or agreement that affects its membership."
In addition to establishing Webequie First Nation's position on the
Matawa Tribal Council, the Community Position Paper also provides important community information on Industry and Government
Protocol, Regional Infrastructure as well as the Discovery Area.
"The purpose of publicly releasing these documents is to help guide
industry, government and any other commercial interests through the
process of doing business or working collaboratively with our First
Nation. We want to demonstrate that there are meaningful paths forward
to building positive and mutually beneficial working relationships. We
believe that education and awareness are the best way to build
understanding and reciprocal respect."
Webequie First Nation has built tremendous community capacity over the
past three years to become investment-ready and prepare to take
advantage of emerging socio-economic benefits in the Ring of Fire. This
capacity includes the establishment of a community-based Webequie Ring
of Fire team. Copies of both the Community Position Paper and Consultation and Accommodation Protocol are available upon request through the Webequie First Nation Ring of
Webequie First Nation is a growing Ojibway community located 540 km
north of the city of Thunder Bay. Webequie First Nation is the closest
community to the discovery areas in the Ring of Fire and it has over
700+ community members, many of which are actively enjoying their
traditional cultural practices and harvesting activities.
SOURCE WEBEQUIE FIRST NATION
For further information:
Webequie Ring of Fire Senior Director
T- (807) 472-6147
T- (807) 767-4443 Ext#223