THUNDER BAY – Matawa First Nations Tribal Council is announcing support for Marten Falls First Nation following traditional land being cleared near the community without authorization. CEO David Paul Achneepineskum says; “It is really unfortunate that this has occurred”.
“The Matawa First Nations communities and its leaders continue to voice that we are open for business, but our communities wish to make it known that if there is going to be any development on our lands, we are going to play an active role throughout the entire process. This is to ensure burial sites, customary lands, and other sacred areas are identified and protected. What happened in Marten Falls is simply unacceptable; the mining Industry needs to be respectful of our land”.
“We also want to make it clear that before any permits are given by the Ontario Government they must consult with our First Nations; this will eliminate mistakes like this incident. This is not the first time that a grave site has been desecrated by development with our First Nations territory.”
Marten Falls is one of nine Matawa First Nations communities, and has traditional lands located in the Ring of Fire; an area that is said to have some of the some of the wealthiest mineral potential in Canada.
Earlier this month, Marten Falls Chief Eli Moonias discovered traditional lands near his community had been clear cut by surprise, and feared it had been near a burial site.
Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation says; “We know this land better than anyone else. Ongoing communication is needed between our communities and developers on our land to make certain all issues are raised and addressed. This will lead to a respectful relationship and bring about a sense of historic and cultural understanding.”
Earlier this year Matawa First Nations unveiled the Interim Mineral Measures Process. The process provides guidelines on how communities interact with the mineral exploration and mining industry, bringing new ideas to terms like consultation and accommodation.
“We have protocols and processes in place that need to be followed and respected;” says Chief Roger Oskineegish of Nibinamik First Nation. “Mining companies and developers need to work with our First Nations to ensure transparency”.