THUNDER BAY – MINING – Marten Falls First Nation (MFFN) and Aroland First Nation (AFN) re-affirm their jurisdictional authority over their respective territories in Northern Ontario, in light of recent Ring of Fire transportation plan announcements by the Government of Ontario, Noront Resources and KWG Resources. In the recent Ontario Speech from the Throne, Ontario said it “will continue to work with First Nations and other partners to move forward with greater access to the Ring of Fire and remote First Nation communities.”
“Greater access to the Ring of Fire requires greater access and use of the lands and waters over which our First Nations have jurisdiction,” said Chief Bruce Achneepineskum of Marten Falls First Nation. “Our First Nations are determined that transportation planning for ‘greater access to the Ring of Fire’ must be fully inclusive of the First Nations whose rights and interests will be impacted by transportation decisions. Our decisions will be based on seven-generation and sound environmental stewardship principles. Marten Falls First Nation and Aroland First Nation laws must be respected by all parties.”
“Our First Nations also expect mining companies to respect and abide by Ontario laws and decisions, especially the Terms of References for the Noront Resources Environmental Assessment,” said Chief Dorothy Towedo of Aroland First Nation. “Noront appears to be ignoring its obligation under the Environmental Assessment Terms of Reference signed by Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. To complete its Environmental Assessment, Noront is legally obligated to establish consultation agreements with our First Nations and conduct, with us at the table, a review of alternative transportation options. So far, that is not happening, and instead we see side attempts at side deals that could avoid those obligations.”
“Instead of abiding by the Minister’s legally binding Terms of Reference to review transportation alternatives, Noront is proposing a side deal with Ontario that would bypass those legal obligations and, more importantly, avoid inclusive First Nation consultation,” said Chief Bruce Achneepineskum. “Meanwhile, KWG Resources continues to advance its transportation study with no First Nation consultation overtop of mining claims in our territories. These are mining claims on which KWG has no intention to explore for mineral resources and/or actually mine.”
“Ring of Fire transportation planning decisions will impact many future generations,” said Chief Dorothy Towedo. “It is important to make the right decisions. Marten Falls and Aroland are discussing options to ensure Ring of Fire transportation planning by Ontario and the mining industry is fully inclusive of our rights and interests, and reduce the trend for side deals that ignore those rights and interests.”
“Marten Falls First Nation and Aroland First Nation are determined to ensure that our Free, Prior and Informed Consent is obtained for any and all transportation plans in the Ring of Fire,” said Chief Bruce Achneepineskum. “Our jurisdiction over our territories must be respected and honoured by both the Province of Ontario and industries that wish to develop mines or transportation infrastructure on our territories.”
Marten Falls First Nation and Aroland First Nation will make further announcements shortly, after discussions with Ontario to determine how Ring of Fire transportation planning can be done in a way that is fully inclusive of First Nation rights and interests.