By Dryden Observer Staff
Negotiators have cleared a major hurdle in the effort to develop mining in the Far North’s Ring Of Fire chromite deposit.
Representatives from nine Matawa First Nations communities signed a regional framework agreement that will ensure ‘a community-based, regional approach to development in the Ring of Fire’ said a statement from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines late last week.
“Improving the quality of life and creating lasting economic benefits for First Nations communities is a priority for this government,” said Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, David Zimmer. “This regional framework is a historic agreement that demonstrates how respectful dialogue, negotiation and collaboration can move economic development projects forward, creating benefits for everyone involved.”
In July 2013, Ontario appointed the Honourable Frank Iacobucci as the lead negotiator for Ontario to participate in discussions with the Matawa-member First Nations on proposed resource development in the Ring of Fire.
Negotiating on behalf of the Matawa communities was former Ontario Premier Bob Rae.
Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle says the agreement is a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.
“This regional framework agreement is a landmark achievement in community and regional discussions,” said Gravelle. “I am proud that our collaborative work with Matawa-member First Nations continues to progress. Together, we are moving forward on realizing the Ring of Fire’s potential and making important advancements on regional, environmental, and economic developments.”
Marten Falls First Nation, Chief Elijah K. Moonias says he thinks the agreement is a good platform from which to begin negotiations.
“I’ve seen many framework type processes come and go, and MOUs (memorandums of understanding), and some have had beneficial results but many have not gone anywhere,” said Moonias. “I am optimistic that this regional framework allows us to be more involved in development and the decision-making that is going to happen. I am assured the regional framework will enhance and not supersede our community-based MOU signed in September 2012. We are working to set the course to move our First Nations away from dependence so that we can capture the maximum benefits and move towards community wellness and increase ambition for our people.”