A Cree Nation located by the “Ring of Fire” in Northern Ontario is alarmed by an announcement made yesterday by the Ontario provincial government. During a press conference, Premier Doug Ford along with Indigenous Relations Minister, Greg Rickford announced a partnership with neighbouring Nations within Fort Albany First Nation’s territory, to develop the Northern Road link. The Northern Road Link will link two other roads already proposed by Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation. This would create the first continuous all-season road from the provincial highway network to the Ring of Fire.
“Fort Albany First Nation has been participating in good faith in the consultations related to the impact and environmental assessment processes for the Marten Falls and Webequie roads,” said Fort Albany First Nation’s Chief, Leo Metatawabin. “It appears that behind the scenes, Ontario, Marten Falls First Nation, and Webequie First Nation have been making plans that could majorly increase harmful environmental impacts of these projects. This raises serious concerns about Free, Prior and Informed Consent, the transparency and integrity of the environmental assessment processes, and whether Ontario is meeting its duty to consult.”
Fort Albany First Nation was disappointed to have learned of the Northern Road Link through a press release made by the Office of the Premier yesterday afternoon. It is deeply concerning that Fort Albany has been excluded from important intergovernmental leadership meetings on a project of this scale, which will have major impacts on its traditional territory.
“Ontario’s enthusiastic support for the Northern Road Link without any meaningful dialogue at all with Fort Albany makes us extremely concerned that they are not approaching their duty to consult in good faith, and that any consultation with us will simply be a rubber-stamp exercise,” said Chief Metatawabin.
Fort Albany First Nation is located in Northeastern Ontario on the James Bay coast, directly downstream on the Albany River from the community of Marten Falls. Fort Albany’s traditional territory covers much of the surrounding area, including the Ring of Fire. Fort Albany is a signatory to Treaty No.9 and a member of Mushkegowuk Council.
“Our Peoples will not accept this. We will not consent to anything done with disregard for our Inherent and Treaty rights,” concluded Chief Metatawabin.
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