Ring of Fire Updates Weekly News Roundup

2018 Wrap-Up: News Roundup

The text "What's the Media Saying? Water Crisis News Round-Up, 2018 So Far", overlaid on top of a photo of the Attawapiskat River as a storm approaches.

In the summer of 2018, Doug Ford was sworn into office and we all waited with bated breath to see how his approach to the Ring of Fire would differ from Kathleen Wynne’s. Ontario’s lead negotiator stepped away from his position and the Regional Framework Agreement (the consultation process that Wynne led) was left to expire, but it wasn’t until 2019 that Doug Ford formally announced his plans. During the wait, Neskantaga First Nation and Eabametoong First Nation issued a Declaration of Alliance, sending a clear message to the province and others to expect these communities to fight together for their right to full participation in decision-making around mining on their territories.

Meanwhile, Marten Falls and Webequie, the two First Nations taking the lead on Environmental Assessments for the roads that would create access both to their communities and also the Ring of Fire mining projects, made progress in these respective processes.

Here’s a full breakdown of the news that happened in the second half of this year:

August 27, 2018 (Bay Today):

No indication yet what the Ford government has in mind to jump-start the Ring of Fire

Ontario Northland could have a role in massive mining development, but government not saying much

“A spokesman with the Ontario government anticipates no changes with the Ring of Fire Secretariat, the Crown agency charged with developing the infrastructure to reach the Far North mineral deposits. Almost two months after a new cabinet was sworn in at Queen’s Park, there’s no indication what the Doug Ford government has in mind to “jump-start” industrial development in the James Bay lowlands, other than a bumper-sticker campaign promise to bulldoze new access roads into the remote region.” Read more here…

September 5, 2018 (TB News Watch):

Frank Iacobucci leaves role as Ring of Fire negotiator

Former judge believes he made ‘some progress’

“Retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci has left his role as Ontario’s chief negotiator for the Ring of Fire. Iacobucci says he resigned from the role “in order to give the new [Progressive Conservative] government the flexibility to decide what it wanted to do on the matter.” Read more here…

September 5, 2018 (Northern Ontario Business):

What’s the plan for the Ring of Fire?

Exit of province’s lead negotiator has Matawa chiefs waiting on Ford government’s next move

“The elimination of the province’s main negotiator in the Ring of Fire consultation process has the head of a northwestern Ontario First Nation tribal council waiting on the Ford government and Northern Ontario cabinet minister Greg Rickford to make the next move. A Toronto media report claimed Justice Frank Iacobucci was axed by the Ford government in a purge of former government officials appointed under the previous Wynne government.” Read more here…

September 5, 2018 (Net News Ledger):

Matawa First Nations statement on Ring of Fire Issues

“On the removal of Mr. Iacobucci as lead-negotiator for Ontario under the Regional Framework Agreement process, Matawa First Nations leadership were able to develop a positive relationship with him during his time of service. It is not within our responsibility to comment on the rationale behind the new government’s decision but we do look forward to working with Minister Rickford and Premier Ford in the future.” Read more here…

September 5, 2018 (Timmins: The Daily Press):

Ring of Fire protest planned in Sudbury

“A protest against the so-called Ring of Fire is planned for Thursday in Sudbury. A group calling itself Stop the Ring of Fire – Water is Life – Anishinabek Rights Now has organized the protest. In a post on its Facebook page, Stop the Ring of Fire – Water is Life – Anishinabek Rights Now is highly critical of the mining industry and government. “Mining companies continue to destroy our homelands, steal our wealth, and leave us with scraps we are told to be grateful for … We are a group of people committed to helping the larger network of allies around Anishinabe Aki and Turtle Island who want corrupt governments and corporations to face the consequences for the irresponsible and seemingly deliberate destruction and abuse of our planet and its peoples. We want all mining in the Ring of Fire area to STOP!” Read more here…

September 7, 2018 (The Sault Star):

Native leader wants to halt the Ring of Fire development

Social issues involving the eight First Nation communities in the Ring of Fire area, such as high suicide rates and low post-secondary funding, need to be addressed with any mining activity in that area, says protest participant

“No development should occur with the so-called Ring of Fire mining camp in northwestern Ontario until a wide variety of issues involving the affected First Nation communities are dealt with first, says a Wikwemikong First Nation man who organized a protest Thursday in Greater Sudbury. “I’m in the camp that says definitely ‘no,’” said Bruce McComber, holding a poster with the message, “Defend Anishnaabe Aki” at the main entrance to Laurentian University. “If there’s no camp that says no at all, there is no group to push for a better deal for First Nations …Even being in the ‘camp of stop’ puts a little pressure and (First Nation communities) may get a little better deal in the long run.” Read more here…

September 17, 2018 (Timmins: The Daily Press):

Consultation needed before any development in Ring of Fire: Grand Chief

While there has been much talk about its mineral riches, Indigenous communities within that area want more consultation before development begins, says Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon

“Mining companies and politicians shouldn’t get too far ahead of themselves discussing development within the Ring of Fire, says the grand chief of a regional First Nations council. While there has been much talk about its mineral riches, Indigenous communities within that area want more consultation before development begins, says Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon. “We have talked about it in our council, the Mushkegowuk Council with the First Nations communities,” said Solomon. “The legal advice we got from our lawyers is, ‘You have a position now to demand a full involvement in the environment assessment (EA) processes.’” Read more here…

September 27, 2018 (CBC News):

Framework agreement between Matawa, Ontario ‘stalled’, MPP says

Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa called for resumption of meetings between chiefs, ministers

“An agreement that was supposed to guide negotiations between Ontario and nine First Nations that surround the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario has “stalled,” according to an opposition member of the legislature. Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa spoke during Question Period on Thursday, and probed why the Progressive Conservative government “hasn’t engaged with the Matawa chiefs since [the] election.” “Eabametoong First Nation chief [Elizabeth] Atlookan is here today,” the New Democrat member said. “Will the premier direct the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, not to get on the bulldozer, but to meet with Chief Atlookan today to begin the dialogue.” Read more here…

September 28, 2018 (Northern Ontario Business):

Get cracking on East-West tie, say northwest leaders

Government delays in power expansion project causes exodus of skilled labour

“But Dupuis said repeated calls and letters by community stakeholders into Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford’s office have gone unanswered. “This (project) affects every single one of his ministries.” Dupuis emphasized that all the major development projects in northwestern Ontario and the Far North – such as the Ring of Fire and Watay Power – are reliant on the East-West Tie being completed. “This is a link to create everything that they say they want to do, and yet there’s no urgency given to it. Read more here…

October 4, 2018 (TVO):

How Ontario can get the Ring of Fire back on track

Doug Ford says he’ll hop on a bulldozer if necessary – but a recent court decision about the Trans Mountain Pipeline shows there’s an easier way, writes Josh Dehaas

“Some are worried that the Federal Court of Appeal’s August decision about the Trans Mountain pipeline, which emphasized the importance of such consultations, will slow progress on the Ring of Fire or give First Nations a de facto veto over resource projects — but legal experts say that’s not the case. In fact, they say it may actually provide a roadmap for the Ford government to get the stalled project back on track.” Read more here…

November 1, 2018 (CBC News):

NDP mining critic concerned Ford government stalling on Ring of Fire development

Michael Mantha says he’s asked but has yet to receive updates from Minister of Northern Development and Mines

“The new face at the table — the Ford Progressive Conservative government — hasn’t made its intentions clear, said Algoma-Manitoulin MPP, Michael Mantha. Mantha is also the New Democratic Party critic for Northern Development and Mines. He says over the years, the other partners have been working to build better relationships with each other. “Industry has done a lot of the work, and First Nations have done a lot of work. It’s time for government to step in now and that they be held to their role in moving some of the development that we want to see happen in Ontario.” Read more here…

November 3, 2018 (Sudbury.com):

Lack of cooperation could mean delays in mining project, says Algoma-Manitoulin MPP

No working relationship First Nations and the Liberal government could mean delays in future mining projects like the Ring of Fires says Michael Mantha

“Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha says Premier Doug Ford’s failure to acknowledge the traditional territory of Pic Mobert First Nation at a recent mine opening indicates the premier doesn’t understand what it takes to build a trusting relationship with Indigenous communities. During the opening of Harte Gold’s Sugar Zone mine in White River, neither Doug Ford nor Greg Rickford, the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Indigenous Affairs, acknowledged the traditional First Nation territory. “Let’s be clear, the only thing this government did was cut a ribbon there,” Mantha said.” Read more here…

November 9, 2018 (CBC News):

Provincial money ends for Ring of Fire talks as Matawa chiefs await response, negotiator says

Matawa chiefs negotiator Bob Rae says First Nations ‘ready to move ahead’

“The lead negotiator for the chiefs of Indigenous communities closest to the Ring of Fire says they’re still waiting to hear back from the provincial government about how talks will look going forward. That comes as Bob Rae says money committed by the province since 2013 that funded a number of initiatives through the regional framework agreement between Ontario and the nine member communities of the Matawa Tribal Council ran out at the end of October. “We’re ready to move ahead with discussions on the key elements of the regional framework which has been agreed to,” Rae said. “We’re ready to sit down with the province and the federal government whenever they’re ready to respond.” Read more here…

November 9, 2018 (Northern Ontario Business):

Lack of consultation on Ring of Fire development frustrates First Nation communities

Neskantaga, Eabametoong want negotiated settlement with Queen’s Park, threaten legal action

“The lack of an all-inclusive provincial strategy to advance development in the Ring of Fire is frustrating two remote First Nation communities in the area of the Far North mineral deposits. In a Nov. 9 news release, the communities of Neskantaga and Eabametoong called out the Ford government for suspending a provincially-sponsored consultation process, known as the Regional Framework Agreement, and not replacing a fired negotiator. “This will slow the process of reaching agreement and, potentially, delay future developments in the Ring of Fire. However, we remain committed to the process and the principles already agreed,” said Neskantaga First Nation Chief Wayne Moonias in a statement.” Read more here…

November 10, 2018 (Net News Ledger):

Neskantaga and Eabametoong issue Declaration of Alliance and Shared Regulatory Territory

“The communities of Neskantaga and Eabametoong continue to stand together while pointing to the way forward in the north and on the Ring of Fire. These two First Nations, united by a shared history, are committing to advance their interests through a political alliance to regulate and protect their combined territories. “Our people have always managed the land according to our principles, values, and knowledge. We are committed to moving forward in ways that strengthen our people and provide hope for the future. This alliance is natural and a positive step. We share family lines, our lands and rivers as well as principled positions on development,” said Chief Moonias.” Read more here…

November 13, 2018 (Wawatay News):

Neskantaga and Eabametoong stand up to Doug Ford

“Nearly 60 community citizens from both Neskantaga and Eabametoong First Nations gathered for a fundraiser and rally against Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s recent statements about the Ring of Fire. The event “Into the Ring with Ford” was held at Ryerson University in Toronto on November 9th. It was organized by the Yellowhead Institute, and was live broadcast on Wawatay Radio Network and Wawatay News Online.” Read more here…

November 16, 2018 (Northern Ontario Business):

Cutting red tape extends to the Ring of Fire

Ford government committed to Far North mine projects

“The Ford government is determined to throw some fuel on the Ring of Fire. But how mining development will unfold in the Far North still appears to be a work in progress. In his Nov. 16 Fall Economic Statement, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli reaffirmed the government’s commitment to cut regulatory red tape that’s hindered advancement of the projects in the James Bay region. Fedeli spoke about extending prosperity to “every corner of our province,” and clearing the hurdles to develop the Ring of Fire.” Read more here…

November 17, 2018 (CBC):

Setbacks hit water treatment projects for Ontario First Nations

Neskantaga and Slate Falls thought they’d be rid of years-long water advisories by now

“The filtered water station by the motel overlooking Attawapiskat Lake is the only place Neskantaga First Nation residents can get clean water for free. And project co-ordinator Roy Moonias is worried about elderly people slipping on ice formed from spills when temperatures drop below freezing. The small, outhouse-like structure — which serves the community of some 300 people — “shouldn’t be here,” said Moonias. Neskantaga was supposed to have a new water treatment plant back in May. “Now we have to suffer more, using this system.” Read more here…

November 21, 2018 (CBC):

Neskantaga Chief Wayne Moonias on Ring of Fire

Wayne Moonias addresses Ontario’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs at a Chiefs of Ontario meeting

Click this link to watch the video.

November 21, 2018 (Sault Star):

Sheehan meets with Noront execs in Ottawa during Mining Days

Sault MP Terry Sheehan says relationship is important and he meets regularly withn Noront Resources officials, taking the opportunity to highlight Sault Ste. Marie and all it has to offer

“‘Mining days’ on Parliament Hill gave Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan another chance to meet with Noront Resource executives. Sheehan’s Twitter posts show he met with president Allan Coutts in Ottawa to get an update on what the mining company with the largest stake in the Ring of Fire is doing. “We do meet or keep in touch regularly, but certainly it was another opportunity for me to push Sault Ste. Marie’s advantages for a ferrochrome facility,” Sheehan said in a telephone interview.” Read more here…

November 22, 2018 (CBC):

‘There’s been very little information coming back to our community’

Neskantaga Chief Wayne Moonias talks about the Ring of Fire and lack of communication around it from the provincial government

Click here to watch the video.

November 23, 2018 (CBC):

Ontario playing favourites with First Nations on Ring of Fire, say chiefs

Bob Rae memos warned Matawa First Nations that Ford government would change talks on Ring of Fire

“Shortly before the 2018 Ontario election, Bob Rae sent a memo warning the nine Matawa First Nations chiefs to resolve internal differences or face the collapse of collective negotiations to develop the mineral rich zone in the James Bay lowlands known as the Ring of Fire. Rae, the tribal council’s lead negotiator, said the next provincial government would likely abandon the main negotiating table created by a landmark 2014 regional framework agreement. “[Ford] has not said anything positive about engaging First Nations in any processes only that he would ‘drive the bulldozer himself’ to get road construction started,” wrote Rae in the memo.” Read more here…

November 23, 2018 (CBC):

First Nations near Ring of Fire press Indigenous affairs minister over consultation

Chiefs of Eabametoong, Neskantaga addressed Greg Rickford at Chiefs of Ontario assembly

“The chiefs of two First Nations near the Ring of Fire again pressed the Ontario government over how they will be consulted over any future developments in the remote north. That comes as Eabametoong Chief Elizabeth Atlookan took Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford to task over not yet responding to a request for a face-to-face meeting. Neskantaga Chief Wayne Moonias also addressed the minister when he took questions at the Chiefs of Ontario’s Special Chiefs Assembly in Toronto on Wednesday. “I can’t get to meet with you, I’ve requested meetings,” Atlookan said to Rickford at the assembly. “I haven’t heard zilch from you.” Read more here…

November 23, 2018 (Republic of Mining blog):

Marten Falls First Nation selects AECOM to conduct road study and environmental assessment for new all-season road

“Marten Falls First Nation and Ontario announced the agreement to study a long-awaited community access road on August 21, 2017. Since then, Marten Falls has entered into a voluntary agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to conduct an Individual Environmental Assessment (EA) and Preliminary Design (PD) for the proposed community access road from Marten Falls First Nation going south to existing provincial highways. The First Nation has established a project team and conducted one field season of baseline surveys; but to carry out the full suite of technical services and studies, and other steps within the EA process, Marten Falls has brought on AECOM.” Read more here…

November 23, 2018 (Net News Ledger):

Marten Falls EA proponency a game-changer

“Marten Falls First Nation and Ontario announced the agreement to study a long-awaited community access road on August 21, 2017. Since then, Marten Falls has entered into a voluntary agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to conduct an Individual Environmental Assessment (EA) and Preliminary Design (PD) for the proposed community access road from Marten Falls First Nation going south to existing provincial highways.” Read more here…

November 23, 2018 (Northern Ontario Business):

Rickford in hot seat over Northern pro-development stance

Neskantaga, Eabametoong want more discussion, greater say on Ring of Fire process

“Greg Rickford took considerable heat from leaders of two remote First Nation communities that feel they’ve been left out of the loop in discussions to industrialize the Far North. At a Nov.21 assembly of Ontario Chiefs, Neskantaga’s Wayne Moonias and Eabemetoong’s Elizabeth Atlookan scolded the minister of energy, mines, northern development and Indigenous affairs for isolating them from talks surrounding the construction of roads into the Ring of Fire.” Read more here…

November 27, 2018 (Mining Weekly):

Ring of Fire explorers laud First Nation road announcement

“Exploration juniors KWG Resources and Noront Resources have lauded progress in the advancement of the all-season access road to connect to far-flung First Nation communities in Northern Ontario. The Marten Falls First Nation announced last week that global engineering firm Aecom had been selected to conduct a road study and to complete an environmental assessment for the new road, which would link with existing provincial highways and potentially extend to the emerging mineral-rich Ring of Fire mining district.” Read more here…

November 27, 2018 (CBC News):


Ontario’s Ring of Fire development is far from a priority for Eabametoong First Nation, as it struggles with a housing crisis and addictions

“The government has the Ring of Fire for the wealth,” said Atlookan. “But this is a last frontier…. We are isolated, but yet we hear about possible development which means encroachment, a totally different way of life.”
Atlookan said the community needs to have the right things in place, like proper mental health and land-based healing programs to deal with the inevitable disruption that development brings. “You don’t know what it’s like being here. We have social issues, mental health and addiction issues that we haven’t been able to really resolve and get our people healed,” she said.” Read more here…

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