Partnership Between Ontario, Marten Falls, and Webequie First Nations Paves the Way for Economic Development

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Community Development Agreement Signed at PDAC Conference to Propel Ring of Fire Infrastructure

TORONTO – MINING – In a significant move towards fostering community development and economic reconciliation, Minister of Mines George Pirie, Chief Bruce Achneepineskum of Marten Falls, and Chief Cornelius Wabasse of Webequie First Nation convened at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Conference in Toronto on March 5. Together, they unveiled a landmark Community Development Aid Agreement designed to launch infrastructure initiatives supporting future growth in the Ring of Fire region.

A Leap Towards Economic Reconciliation

Minister Pirie highlighted the agreement as a critical step in advancing economic reconciliation, spotlighting its role in integrating Marten Falls and Webequie communities into the broader regional economy. This initiative promises enhanced connectivity to major highways, laying the groundwork for “a corridor to prosperity.” It envisions an all-season road network connecting these First Nations to significant mining ventures and the broader infrastructure network.

Customized Development for First Nations

The pact focuses on investing in projects tailored to the unique needs of each First Nation, with an emphasis on health, education, recreational, and commercial infrastructure, alongside labour force development programs. This approach underscores a collaborative model for project construction, ownership, and governance, particularly critical during ongoing environmental assessments.

Voices from the Community

Chief Achneepineskum reflected on the agreement’s significance against a backdrop of historical injustices, emphasizing its potential to provide a brighter future for the youth and reinforce First Nations’ leadership in their territories. Similarly, Chief Wabasse expressed optimism about the agreement’s capacity to foster prosperity, aligning government and industry efforts with the well-being of their communities.

Chief Achneepineskum highlighted the historical significance of the agreement, stating, “It’s very important to our members, especially our youth, who need a future as bright as can be. Moving forward with Ontario in a collaborative manner, we need to also address our past history… and learn from that history and move forward in a bright, positive manner that ensures First Nations have their rightful place in this land that we call Canada.”

Echoing this sentiment, Chief Wabasse shared his community’s vision for development, emphasizing a partnership approach with the government and industries. “The community has a vision to prosper from any development in our area… We want to be able to work with the government side-by-side, also work with the industry to address some of our needs in our communities, and the well-being of our community,” he said.

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