Ring of Fire: Matawa chiefs want to be in centre of talks – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – March 6, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Many Ontarians are frustrated with the slow pace of development in the Ring of Fire, but the Matawa Chiefs Council represented by former Ontario premier Bob Rae feels that way for a different reason.

The chiefs, who represent nine first nations located near the chromite deposits, want greater recognition of the need for human and social development on reserves in remote communities and the need to get moving on that, said Rae.

They’re frustrated the Ontario and federal governments are suddenly interested in their region “not because of the appalling social conditions on reserves,” said Rae, “but because of the possibilities of major mining development.”

His clients are telling him, “if you’re going to discuss mining development, you’re going to discuss our development,” Rae said Thursday afternoon, before he was to deliver a talk that evening at Laurentian University for the Goring Family Lecture Series.

Rae was to speak on the topic Mining and First Nations: Sustainability is the Only Option. Earlier in the day, Rae met with aboriginal and other community leaders to discuss related issues.

In an interview with The Sudbury Star, Rae said Matawa chiefs aren’t going to put up with “being ignored or sidelined or set off in the corner” as the province and private mining companies discuss developing the chromite deposits 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.

“They very much want to be in the centre of discussions,” said Rae, “and really the challenge we face is making sure we are at the centre of those negotiations.”

The Matawa First Nations are nine of the communities in the area covered by the Ring of Fire.

Rae has been negotiating a framework agreement on their behalf with former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci, who is representing the government of Ontario. Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle has said in recent months the two sides are close to reaching that agreement.

Rae said the parties are working hard at it, but there is still work to be done.

Consultations with communities are continuing, and he said he wouldn’t say more than that out of respect for the process.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2014/03/06/matawa-chiefs-want-to-be-in-centre-of-talks

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