Ontario must understand that it has no right to make these decisions – Chief Peter Moonias

CliffsNESKANTAGA FIRST NATION – The Neskantaga First Nation is expressing their concern over the announcement by Ontario government officials and representatives from Cliffs Natural Resources. The decision announced last Thursday is having a cooling effect on relations between First Nations and the Ontario government.

Here is what Chief Peter Moonias of the Neskantaga First Nation has said in an open Letter to Minister of Northern Development and Mines Hon. Rick Bartolucci as written on May 11, 2012:

We are deeply disappointed to learn- through a media announcement from your office on May 9, 2012 ~that Ontario has made the decision to support the Cliffs’ chromite project, and the proposed north-south all-season road. These decisions will have significant adverse impacts on our lands, environment and way of life. Your Government has made these decisi011s without adequate consultation whh Neskantaga, in breach of your legal duties and the Hono\.lr of the Crown.

To suggest you will now work with First Nations to ‘partner’ on this development presupposes the project and the road will proceed. To have made this decision already precludes good faith consultation. To have made this decision without our input is unconscionable.

The proposed north-south road will cross the Attawapiskat River in the heart of out territory~ and the airport and the project are within our traditional lands. This project will open up development in the North in a way that threatens our culture and our way of life. You have announced you plan to enter into a Framework Agreement with Webequie and Martin Fails. You seem to be misinformed about the strength of the aboriginal rights and claims of Neskantaga, Your willingness to ignore us is not responsible, and not legal.

You seem to want to separate and divide First Nations, rather than dealing honorably.

We cannot accept this development within Neskantaga territory without a full regional process that properly considers First Nation infrastructure needs, our participation in decision-making, and the true environmental, social and cultural impacts of new developments in the north.

Ontario must understand that it has no right to make these decisions without our participation. Accordingly, on behalf of the Neskantaga First Nation, we must advise you that we will be opposing the Cliffs’ project. We intend to use every lawful means at our disposal in doing so.

SIGNED ON BEHALF OF NESKANTAGA FIRST NATION

Chief Peter Moonias