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Ontario has moved forward in signing agreements with two Indigenous communities which will help build roads that will connect them to the Ring of Fire.
The Ring of Fire is the name given to a massive planned chromite mining and smelting development project in the mineral-rich James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the deals with the Webequie First Nation and the Marten Falls First Nation yesterday in Toronto.
The former Liberal Wynne government had signed agreements with three of nine First Nation communities surrounding the James Bay Lowlands, including the Webequie and Marten Falls.
The deals were then scrapped after the Ford government decided that they would create new deals from scratch with the communities, seeking out their own deals.
“We look forward to working together with Ontario to ensure the sustainable development of our ancestral territories,” said Marten Falls First Nation Chief Bruce Achneepineskum in a statement to CBC. “We are moving ahead with this agreement so all communities in the region can connect to the next phase, which is to secure and bring good-paying jobs in mining, construction and other skilled trades to our communities.”
“We understand that road development will impact our traditional territories but believe this is a positive step forward to unlocking new opportunities that will benefit all surrounding First Nation communities,” said Webequie chief Cornelius Wabasse said.
Critics, including the New Democrat’s Michael Mantha, say that the effort to create their own deals has been a prolonged, unnecessary step that has only delayed the project.
The Ring of Fire region is one of the most mineral-rich in the world for elemental deposits such as chrome, nickel, copper and platinum