Alliance formed between Aroland and Marten Falls First Nations to ensure their rights and interests are protected in the development of the Ring of Fire
(Queen’s Park Media Studio, March 06, 2012) Today, Chief Eli Moonias of Marten Falls First Nation and Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation outlined to the Ontario government their position on mining development in their Territory. Chief Moonias and Chief Gagnon are founding members of the North-South Alliance.
The two Chiefs are in Toronto to monitor Ring of Fire related activity at the Prospector & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) International Convention, Trade Show & Investors Exchange.The Ring of Fire mineral deposit is located within First Nations homelands in Northern Ontario. Currently there are over 35,000 staked mining claims in the area. The majority of claims are staked in the Ring of Fire area which holds immeasurable wealth in the form of chromite and precious minerals with tonnage that can potentially drive Ontario’s economy for decades.
Chief Sonny Gagnon stated, “Communities in the First Nations Territory are not opposed to developments such as the Ring of Fire in their territory. However, our communities are opposed to developments which do not fully involve our members in the decision making process, which do not minimize environmental impacts and which fail to provide a future for our children, grandchildren and great grand children.”
Chief Moonias summarized the position of the two communities on the future of sustainable development within the region:
• The First Nations want a Negotiated Joint Panel Review EA Process for both the Cliffs and Noront projects. This will ensure that the environmental assessment is not fast-tracked like the tar sands project in Alberta.
• The communities believe that the consultation process being advanced by Cliffs and Noront, the main players in the Ring of Fire, is inadequate to address the significant changes and challenges that their development will create.
• Marten Falls First Nation and Aroland First Nation are committed to working with other interests, including area First Nations and municipalities, such as Greenstone, etc.
• Adequate attention must be paid to the environment, to minimize the impact of development on the communities and the Territory.
As part of the government-to-government negotiations, the communities expect the Governments of Canada and Ontario to:
• Acknowledge and support their position that, if Ring of Fire minerals are to be extracted within First Nation Territories, then processing/refining must occur in the Territory.
• That Exton Siding adjacent to Aroland First Nation is the preferred location for the refining smelter. This location is also supported by the Municipality of Greenstone who are working cooperatively with First Nations. The First Nations believe that this option should be assessed within the environmental assessment process.
• Work with the communities to develop a road corridor to the Ring of Fire in accordance with the road alignment study and planning initiative advanced by Marten Falls before the Ring of Fire existed. This route would eliminate a bridge over the Ogoki River, avoiding passage through a provincial waterway park, and supply community benefits.
• Support Matawa communities and other First Nations in their initiative to build and own a North-South power line along the east side of Lake Nipigon. This will supply power to the refinery and ensure connection of the remote communities to the electricity grid.
“We expect that the governments and industry, along with the First Nations and municipalities will begin to chart a course, through partnership,” concluded Chief Moonias and Chief Gagnon. “The First Nations do not expect to be on the sidelines and treated as ‘stakeholders’. If we cannot benefit from these developments, there will be no development.”
For more information, contact:
Chief Eli Moonias 807-620-3279
Chief Sonny Gagnon 807-620-7195
Marten Falls First Nation and Aroland First Nation are Signatories to Treaty No. 9 1905-1906.