The debate to develop an all-weather road or a railway into the Ring of Fire doesn’t have the chief of Marten Falls First Nation worried.
Chief Eli Moonias and many other Matawa First Nation chiefs met with premier Kathleen Wynne in Toronto to discuss the Ring of Fire project. Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer also attended the meeting.
A recently released study favoured a railroad into the massive chromite deposit in the lower James Bay area instead of an all-weather access road. While rail would be a more significant initial investment, the study concluded it would be the cheaper long-term solution for shipping materials.
Moonias said it didn’t matter which one is built as long as there were access roads for the First Nation communities to use. “If they put in a railway I think we will be approaching it in the manner that we would be involved with it,” he said.
“If they are putting in the railway, we want to be assured that access roads will be built so we can get out of this isolation.”
He said the meeting went well but believes the first step the newly appointed premier should take is implementing the memorandum of understand.
He added that he also wants to see First Nation communities involved in the construction of the roads.
Gravelle said Wynne understands the importance of having a relationship with First Nations and the Metis people. He said she wanted to have an opportunity to be able to listen to what they had to say.
“We know there needs to be discussions related to resource revenue sharing,” he said.
“As well as environmental monitoring, infrastructure development and community supports, it was an honour for me to be a part of that meeting and I certainly don’t want to be speaking on behalf of any of the Matawa First Nations chiefs. But if you speak to them I’m sure you will hear that they would say this was a really great meeting and opportunity as well.”