Ford government faces backlash over Northern Road Link project from Neskantaga

NDP Leader Singh with MP Charlie Angus and MPP Sol Mamakwa in Neskantaga. Photo by Ben Sakanee
NDP Leader Singh with MP Charlie Angus and MPP Sol Mamakwa in Neskantaga. Photo by Ben Sakanee

QUEENS PARK – During Question Period Thursday, MPP Sol Mamakwa (kiiwetinoong), NDP Deputy Leader and Critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, expressed concerns to the Ford government about their commitment to upholding the laws and protocols of all impacted First Nations regarding the Northern Road Link project.

Mamakwa’s call to action stems from the opposition and concerns of many First Nations members who believe that the government is trying to fast-track the project without the free, prior and informed consent of affected Indigenous communities. The current plan was co-developed and submitted by two First Nations in the area but is facing significant pushback from other First Nations. The road link aims to connect the proposed Ring of Fire to the province’s highway network and will be the third and final road.

Mamakwa was joined by Chief Moonias and community members from Neskantaga who emphasized that the people of Neskantaga First Nation have not given their consent to the mining road that the government is pushing through their territory.

Mamakwa stated that “The people of Neskantaga have said nothing will go through their territory without the free prior and informed consent of the people,” and expressed concern that the government is proposing to fast-track mine approval processes by removing environmental safeguards and changing the regulations around completed mine closure plans in Bill 71.

Mamakwa also pointed out the government’s poor track record in protecting Indigenous and Treaty rights and noted that “This government has a dismal record when it comes to honouring the rights of First Nations. This is a textbook play out of the colonial playbook to divide and conquer our people. How will you ensure all First Nations are on board with this project?”

The Ontario NDP urges the government to engage in meaningful consultation with First Nations communities to ensure that all voices are heard, and their rights are respected.

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