‘history in the making’ – First Nations Sign Ring of Fire Agreement

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Ring of FireTHUNDER BAY – Four First Nations in Northern Ontario today signed a landmark collaboration agreement to pursue the ownership, development and operation of a preferred East-West corridor in the Ring of Fire. The East-West Corridor Collaborative Agreement was signed between the communities of Webequie, Neskantaga, Eabametoong and Nibinamik. Since March 2010, the First Nations have been working towards a community-driven strategy to develop a preferred corridor through their traditional territories.

The goal is to establish a First Nation joint venture that will operate an infrastructure, transportation and service corridor for northern First Nations and other activities in the Ring of Fire. The First Nation Chiefs were supported by their Councils during today’s signing ceremony in Thunder Bay.

“I see this collaborative agreement as ‘history in the making’ among the four First Nations who are now taking control of our traditional homelands and are becoming a force to be reckoned with,” says Chief Cornelius Wabasse of Webequie First Nation. One of the major objectives outlined in the East-West Corridor Collaborative Agreement is to ensure that community members from the four First Nations realize the maximum possible benefits from the corridor development.

Chief Peter Moonias of Neskantaga First Nation stated “This is an important step that will ensure our communities are actively involved in the planning, development and operation of this preferred corridor with the other three communities, and that all of the impacted communities benefit socially and economically from this development.”

The mitigation of environmental impacts was also identified by the First Nations as a significant factor for choosing the preferred East-West corridor option.

Signing the agreement for Eabametoong First Nation, Chief Harry Papah noted “This document provides the framework to work collaboratively on the east-west corridor and share a common vision for sustainable communities and self-reliance. This preferred route allows our First Nations to pursue vital development opportunities while minimizing the corridor’s impact on species at risk and overall environmental footprint.”

A Working Group has been established for the East-West Corridor Collaborative Agreement with representatives from each First Nation. The Working Group’s first task is to consult with community members throughout the month of September.

Chief Roger Oskineegish of Nibinamik First Nation concluded, “As a group of First Nations, we can stand strong and direct the companies that enter into our traditional lands to work in partnership with us with the expectation that each community’s protocols will be respected and our individual and collective needs will be met.”

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