Wednesday, April 18, 2012 


THUNDER BAY, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is warning that changes to the environmental regulatory process will lead to direct confrontation on the ground. Yesterday, the federal government released details of a plan to overhaul the environmental review process for major projects as announced during the recent federal budget.

Currently, Environmental Assessment processes are underway in the Ring of Fire region within NAN, and more major projects are expected to take place. In November 2011, First Nations in the Matawa region, within the Ring of Fire, filed a judicial review against the Environment Minister’s decision to proceed with a comprehensive environmental assessment process for the proposed Cliffs Chromite Project, as opposed to a joint panel review they had called for. This judicial review is expected to be heard in the fall of 2012.

“Consultation and accommodation, let alone consent, have not been met with First Nations. I am concerned with how regulatory reform will affect First Nations, including their ability to meaningfully participate in an environmental assessment process that is proposed to be fast-tracked and unchanged in funding capacity,” said Grand Chief Stan Beardy. “No matter how the regulatory system might be changed, First Nations will exercise their inherent authority to provide free, prior and informed consent to any major project taking place in their territories after an environmental assessment takes place.”

The regulatory reform process is being driven by the Government of Canada’s Responsible Resource Development initiative under Canada’s Economic Plan 2012. It includes a reduction in the number of federal departments and agencies for environmental reviews from 40 to three and fixed timelines for assessments of major projects. It will exempt “smaller” developments from the review process completely while placing the responsibility for many large projects under provincial governments.

“Instead of fast-tracking projects and circumventing environmental concerns, the federal government should work with the province to develop an approach to resource development that recognizes and respects the rights and interests of First Nations,” said Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose. “The first step would be to initiate substantive discussions with us on the recognition of First Nation jurisdiction over our lands, including resource revenue sharing and opportunities for our communities through education and training, employment and business development.”

April 17, 2012 marked the anniversary of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 which recognizes and affirms existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights. “It is ironic that after 30 years, we are still here talking about a government trying to run roughshod over First Nations Treaty rights in the name of resource development – that is not acceptable,” said Beardy.

NAN is a political territorial organization representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Ontario portions of Treaty No. 5 – an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario in Canada.

For more information please contact Christina Filazzola, Communications Officer – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807)625-4928 or cell (807)251-6386 or by email .


Christina Filazzola
Communications Officer
Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Direct Line: (807) 625-4928
Cell Phone: (807) 251-6386