In spite of the ongoing water crisis and Covid-19 pandemic, the government and industry are not stopping in their pursuit of mining the Ring of Fire. With all the remote communities having travel bans with no face-to-face meetings allowed and no possibility of meeting with band members, First Nations have demanded that there be a pause in both the provincial and federal environment assessment processes on the access and supply roads, and the region-wide implications of development. The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) is not pausing but is extending the commenting period beyond the original Jan. 21 deadline.
Currently the drafting of the Terms of Reference (ToR) is taking place. Drafting the ToR takes place at the early stages of the environmental assessment process and involves putting together the study parameters and the general work plan, with public input, for how this comprehensive study will be carried out.
Canada Chrome Corporation, a subsidiary of KWG Resources, another company with mining stakes in the Ring of Fire region is moving forward with a plan to build a a rail route to the Ring of Fire along the Esker they laid claim to. The new railway would link up with the CN line and facilitate transport of ore from the KWG deposits to processing facilities farther south.
Sault Ste. Marie’s new environmental sustainability committee has 5 appointees with industry connections and is expected to appoint 1 scientist, Dr. Pedro Antunes, who has repeatedly spoken out against the proposed ferrochrome smelter in Sault Ste. Marie for it’s health impacts.
Vaccination for Covid-19 has started in Northern communities. The articles discuss the legitimate community concerns, campaigns to increase vaccination, and issues with the roll-out.
February 2, 2021 (FM 96 London):
COVID-19 vaccinations begin in Ontario fly-in First Nations
Vaccine teams have begun immunizing people against COVID-19 in northern Ontario fly-in First Nations as part of an initiative called Operation Remote Immunity.
Read more here…
February 2, 2021 (Northern Ontario Business):
Federal consultation period being extended for Ring of Fire assessment process
Ottawa looking for public and community input to draft parameters of regional impact study
Ottawa is following Queen’s Park lead in allowing more time for locked-down remote Indigenous communities to express their comments and concerns on the potential impact of mining in the Far North.
February 3, 2021 (Kenora Online):
Hundreds vaccinated against COVID-19 in NWO
Hundreds of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in a number of local First Nation communities in the area.
February 5, 2021 (CBC):
Ottawa uncertain if Moderna shortage will impact Indigenous vaccine rollout
Indigenous Services Canada’s top doctor says goal is to vaccinate all Indigenous adults ‘before summer’
Neskantaga, located about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont., faces overcrowded housing and has no clean running water. This is why the First Nation and other remote communities like it are prioritized for immunizations.
February 6, 2021 (Huffington Post):
First Nations leaders fight vaccine hesitancy with social media savvy
With a gaping void of trust between Indigenous communities and the government – chiefs, MPPs and other leaders are stepping in
A typical post from Neskantaga Chief Chris Moonias pairs personality with uncomfortable truth.
“Good morning,” he wrote on Twitter Monday, “today is 9,497 days from February 1, 1995 … That’s 26 friggen years of Neskantaga [First Nation] Boil Water Advisory.”
February 6, 2021 (Soo Today):
Ferrochrome opponent set for appointment to controversial city environmental committee
Pedro Antunes was co-author of a 2019 letter signed by dozens of local physicians, expressing concern about Noront’s proposed ferrochrome smelter
One of the most outspoken opponents of a proposed ferrochrome smelter in Sault Ste. Marie is expected to be appointed Monday to the city’s environmental sustainability committee.
February 7, 2021 (The Sudbury Star):
KWG forging ahead with Ring of Fire railroad
Capreol native tapped to oversee $2B infrastructure project
Capreol native and veteran railroader Tony Marquis came out of retirement to take on a project he believes could “give a real kickstart to rail in Northern Ontario.”