Ring of Fire Updates Weekly News Roundup

2019 Year So Far : Ring of Fire News Roundup

The text "What's the Media Saying? Ring of Fire News Round-Up, 2019 Year So Far", overlaid on top of a photo of the Attawapiskat River as a storm approaches.

In February, the Ontario government continues with its review of the 2010 Far North Act, with the intention of reducing red tape and restrictions on important economic development projects in the Far North. According to Dayna Scott, however, the government’s plans to repeal and ultimately replace the Act with the Public Lands Act is worse for indigenous communities’ power to make decisions over development, ultimately handing over all the power to the crown and ministries. Scott argues that failing to properly consult indigenous communities, and respect treaty rights, may lead to conflict and even court cases, which could ultimately stall development in the region. Meanwhile, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler rejects the Far North Act arguing that it violates indigenous rights. He states his willingness to work with the government but asserts that it must be a government-to-government process and that any development in the region must respect NAN treaties and UNDRIP. And in March of this year, Primer Minister Justin Trudeau spoke at a press conference in Thunder Bay, promising that by 2021, there would be no more boiled water advisories in Canada. For approximately 25 years, Neskantaga has had a boiled water advisory, negatively impacting the health of the community.

NDP indigenous affairs and reconciliation critic and MPP Sol Mamakwa from the Northern Ontario riding of Kiiwetinoong met with Doug Ford on the Ring of Fire, raising serious concerns about communities in the Ring of Fire region that still lack clean drinking water. Eabametoong, Neskantaga and Aroland First Nations were also at that meeting. Back in March, Mamakwa introduced a private member’s bill, Bill 76, which calls for the Ontario government to adopt and implement the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), which would ensure communities are properly informed, and provide their consent before large scale projects on their territory can move forward. The Bill sets out to harmonize Ontario’s laws with the UN Declaration.

In June of this year, Noront and Aroland First Nation announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding. Aroland First Nation is located nearby where Noront hopes to build a truck to train transload facility if and when a north-south road is built, which would facilitate the advancement of Noront’s Eagle Nest nickel and base metal project. This agreement comes two years after Noront signed a Project Advancement Agreement with Martin Falls First Nations and one month after it named Sault Ste Marie as the future location of its ferrochrome processing plant. This agreement includes the issuance of 150,000 shares to Aroland First Nation. It’s year role as official opposition, the New Democrat Party (NDP) is highly critical of the Ford government’s approach to the Ring of Fire.

February 14, 2019 (CBC News):

Neskantaga First Nation orders Kingdom Construction workers to ‘leave the community immediately’

New water treatment facility was expected to be completed by March 2019

“It’s been almost 25 years since residents in Neskantaga First Nation, about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont.,  have had access to safe, clean drinking water straight from their taps and it could be months yet before the country’s longest unbroken boil water advisory is lifted. Chief Wayne Moonias said Wednesday the community has decided to cease all operations on the new water treatment plant and has ordered workers and officials from Kingdom Construction Limited (KCL) to “leave the community immediately.” Read more here…

February 26, 2019 (The Daily Press):

NAN lauds move to repeal Far North Act

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler is applauding the Government of Ontario’s plan to repeal the Far North Act

“Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler is applauding the Government of Ontario’s plan to repeal the Far North Act. “We strongly oppose the Far North Act and are encouraged that Ontario is taking a second look at this controversial legislation,” Fiddler said in a statement. “The Act was enacted without meaningful consultation to legislate our territory under the control of the province and threatens the inherent, treaty and Aboriginal rights of our people.” Read more here…

March 25, 2019 (Globe and Mail):

Doug Ford’s repeal of the Far North Act won’t gain respect of Indigenous communities

Unfortunately this article is behind a paywall. The basic summary of it is…

March 28, 2019 (CBC News):

Neskantaga FN still waiting to end 25-year boil water advisory as Trudeau promises 2021

Fly-in community was expecting to have new water treatment facility by March 2018

“It’s been about 25 years since residents in a fly-in Ojibway community in northwestern Ontario have been without clean, safe drinking water and it looks like they might have to wait at least a couple more years to have the longest standing boil water advisory in Canada, lifted. Neskantaga First Nation, located approximately 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont., was promised a new water treatment facility in 2015. The project was expected to be completed by the spring of 2018, however, nine months later, the facility was still incomplete.” Read more here…

April 17, 2019 (CBC News):

Ring of Fire development to be ‘slow, contested’ if Far North Act replacement stands as-is, legal expert says

Province reviewing Far North Act to reduce ‘red tape’ over development

“Ontario’s proposed revamping of legislation that dictates how development proceeds in the province’s far north doesn’t do enough to protect the rights of First Nations and will likely lead to “renewed conflict” with Indigenous communities, according to an environmental law expert. That’s among the conclusions submitted by Dayna Scott, an associate professor at Osgoode Hall and a co-director of the law school’s environmental justice and sustainability clinic to the ongoing review of the Far North Act. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is reviewing the 2010 legislation with an eye on repealing it, “with a view to reducing red tape and restrictions on important economic development projects in the far north.” Read more here…

June 3, 2019 (Globe and Mail):

I’m speaking for marginalized people’: First Nations NDP MPP on his role and relationship with Doug Ford

Unfortunately this article is behind a paywall. The basic summary of it is…

June 6, 2019 (Northern Ontario Business):

Ring of Fire developer brings First Nation into the fold

Noront Resources inks MOU with Aroland First Nation

“Ring of Fire mine developer Noront Resources has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Aroland First Nation. The company said the agreement advances the planning process for the development of its Eagle’s Nest nickel and base metal deposit in the James Bay region. In a June 6 news release, Noront said the MOU formalizes their relationship with the communty by establishing a working and communication protocol in discussing future economic development opportunities.” Read more here…

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