Ontario Construction News staff writer
Three northern Ontario First Nations have declared a moratorium on the development of access roads to Northern Ontario’s proposed Ring of Fire mining region and all construction of the Ring of Fire. They are threatening legal action to preserve their lands and rights.
Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, and Neskantaga First Nations in the James Bay lowlands have declared a moratorium on any development in or to facilitate access to the Ring of Fire mining area.
“We First Nations in the James Bay lowlands, whose Territories and Rights stand to be seriously and permanently desecrated by massive scale mining in the Ring of Fire, hereby declare a moratorium on any development in or to facilitate access to the Ring of Fire area,” they said in a statement released April 1.
The moratorium was declared “because Canada, through the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) has breached the honour of the Crown.”
It is urgently required, according to First Nations, because, “as the caretakers of this part of the Earth where the Creator put us, we have a profound and sacred duty to ensure that this part of the Earth is not so wounded from Ring of Fire development that it can longer support our relations and ways of life, or help protect the world from catastrophic climate change; as the James Bay lowlands stand as one of the last and most important bastions of defence against climate collapse.”
Marten Falls and Webequie are working with SNC-Lavalin and Dillon Consulting to undertake an environmental assessment (EA) on a proposed all-season road. A January release stated that an EA report will be completed to meet both the federal and provincial environmental assessment requirements under a co-ordinated process following the Impact Assessment Act and Ontario Environmental Assessment Act.
The statement said First Nations’ “territories and rights stand to be seriously and permanently desecrated by massive scale mining in the Ring of Fire.”
It will remain will until the governments of Canada and Ontario agree to a regional impact assessment (RIA) that is led by an Indigenous governing body with involvement from one of the three First Nations and other Indigenous groups.
“The risks are too great to allow the Crown to steamroll over our Mother Earth, our Rights and our future,” the statement concluded.
Earlier this year, Mushkegowuk Council called for a moratorium until studies are completed and lands are protected.