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Chiefs say feds taking ‘harmful and dishonourable’ course on Ring of Fire environmental assessment

Originally published in APTN News

January 20, 2022

Legal action is possible if First Nations’ concerns go unaddressed says Chief Gaius Wesley on N2N

A federally led assessment of mining’s potential environmental impact on the Ring of Fire region hasn’t moved beyond draft terms of reference but a handful of chiefs say it’s already being bungled.

Leaders from five Treaty 9 communities in northern Ontario say the framework is narrow, tokenistic, risks exacerbating the climate crisis and runs roughshod over Indigenous sovereignty.

The chiefs fear widespread mineral extraction poses a profound threat to the vast swath of boggy, carbon-rich peatlands south of Hudson Bay and want federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault to scrap the proposed deal.

“They need to throw out the draft terms of reference,” explained Kashechewan Chief Gaius Wesley on Nation to Nation.  “They need to work with the First Nations people through a co-led and co-enforced approach to ensure that the people in our region also have their say.”

Mining companies suspect large deposits of chromite, nickel, copper, gold, titanium-vanadium and diamonds lie deep beneath the 5,000-square-kilometre tract. Premier Doug Ford’s Ontario government calls it a once-in-a-century development opportunity.

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