Ring of Fire Updates Weekly News Roundup

December 22-28, 2020: Weekly News Roundup

An analysis published in Lawyer’s Daily examines the Ontario government’s policies favouring mining developments during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Northern part of the province.

Also this week, Gerald Landry, president of Kingdom Construction Limited, apologizes for racist, outdated statements he made in a  November interview to APTN about the recent $1.9 million settlement paid to the company by the Federal government in relation to its work on the water treatment facility in Neskantaga First Nation. Meanwhile, the Canadian Armed Forces deployed to Neskantaga during the water quality crisis, begin preparations to leave.

December 22, 2020 (CBC)

Ontario should stop playing ‘jurisdictional ping pong’ with First Nations’ water crisis, says NDP MPP

Sol Mamakwa’s riding has 14 First Nations under boil water advisories

“The NDP MPP for the region with the longest-running boil water advisories of any First Nations in Canada is demanding the Ontario government become part of the solution. Sol Mamakwa, who represents the riding of Kiiwetinoong in northwestern Ontario, said the provincial government could do more to help alleviate the suffering of communities on long-term drinking water advisories.

Mamakwa said he has repeatedly asked the government of Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford to offer funding to First Nations in areas such as water infrastructure, but the Ontario government insists the federal government is responsible. “They play the jurisdictional ping pong on the lives of these children, and the elders, the community,” Mamakwa said. “To me, that’s just a, ‘No, we’re not here to help,’ when they continue to say that.””” Read more here…

December 22, 2020 (The Lawyer’s Daily):

Mining injustice: Exploration, decision-making, and community voices in Ring of Fire

“In response to Ontario’s mad dash to develop the controversial Ring of Fire (ROF) mineral cache in Ontario’s Far North, First Nation communities across Ontario’s Far North have reminded the province of constitutionally protected Indigenous and treaty rights and the Crown’s duty to consult.

While 2020 may have begun with a record-setting start for the global mining sector, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic stalled the demand for raw materials. Subsequently, there has also been a shift in industry and investor priorities and a readjustment of government policy on mining. In this article, we question Ontario’s response to mining developments in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has included new policies favouring extractive industry interests over at-risk communities.”” Read more here…

December 23, 2020 (CBC):

‘You are not forgotten’: Outpouring of support for Neskantaga First Nation

Community without safe drinking water inundated with donations and messages of kindness

“When Dawnie Codina Langschmidt heard the stories of children in a remote northern Ontario First Nation pleading for clean running water, she said she had to do something to make sure they knew they were heard. “It really touched my heart,” Codina Langschmidt said. “As a mother of an eight-year-old child, you do your very best to give them — not just the basics in life — and this is the basics and I thought, ‘As a community, as Canadian citizens, we have to stand up for the Indigenous community.'”” Read more here…

December 23, 2020 (APTN):

Former Neskantaga contractor accused of cutting corners in other First Nations

“They had unqualified workers on site and required constant supervision, according to one engineer’s blunt assessment. “They cut corners every day, every day,” said Justin Gee, vice-president of First Nations Engineering Services Ltd. Gee said he encountered these recurring problems while overseeing the work of a construction firm, Kingdom Construction Limited (KCL), building a water treatment plant 10 years ago in Wasauksing First Nation, along the eastern shore of Georgian Bay, about 250 kilometres north of Toronto.

“You have to be on them every step of the way,” said Gee, who was the contract administrator on the project. “You can’t leave them on their own.” Today, this plant is among seven First Nations water and wastewater infrastructure projects in two provinces, funded by the federal government, that have all involved work by KCL, an Ontario-based firm.” Read more here…

December 24, 2020 (CKDR Dryden):

Military set to exit Neskantaga First Nation

“The military gets the go ahead to re-deploy men and women in uniform from the Neskantaga First Nation. In an email to Acadia Broadcasting, Lieutenant Alex Wood with the 4th Canadian Division Headquarters says the First Nation has conveyed that it no longer requires support from the Forces and the Request for Federal Assistance has wrapped up.” Read more here…

December 28, 2020 (TB News Watch):

Canadian Armed Forces leave Neskantaga First Nation

Canadian Rangers were deployed to the community to assist with evacuation and logistical efforts during the ongoing water crisis

“Members of the Canadian Armed Forces that were deployed to Neskantaga First Nation to assist during the ongoing water crisis are preparing to leave. The community approximately 400 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, evacuated most of its members in October after an unknown sheen was found on the surface of the water in its reservoir system.

The Canadian Armed Forces received a request for federal assistance on Oct. 27, through Public Safety Canada and Canadian Rangers were deployed to the community. While in the community, members of the Canadian Armed Forces provided assistance by integrating into the local Emergency Operations Centre command post and providing logistical and general support including, resupply, as well as evacuation and humanitarian assistance.” Read more here…

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