Call out for James Bay sea port – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 5, 2014)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – A council representing eight Northern First Nations is proposing a sea port be established on the James Bay Coast to facilitate development within the Ring of Fire.

“Our plan is to establish a transportation corridor from the Ring of Fire to the James Bay area with a sea port because we know that the products that are going to come out of there are going to be shipped worldwide,” Vern Cheechoo, director of lands and resources of Mushkegowuk Council, told The Daily Press Thursday. “We feel we are best situated in the James Bay region for something like that to take place.”

Past studies have shown that James Bay could be considered a prospect for a seasonal sea port.If rail option were to be developed from the eastern corridor of the Ring of Fire to a seasonal sea port, Cheechoo said this could bring investment and positive economic benefits to many resource-related projects in Northern Ontario.

Mushkegowuk Council has announced it is developing a business plan in support of a rail, sea port, fibre optic and energy transportation corridor in the Ring of Fire through an Aboriginal-led alliance.

Cheechoo explained the goal from the Mushkegowuk communities’ standpoint is two-fold. One is that they would like to get the ball rolling and enable mining development to occur in that region.

The other is to ensure First Nation communities are integrally involved with mining development happening within their treaty territory.

“We want to be able to bring that to the table and let people know we are in a position to unlock the opportunities in the Ring of Fire,” said Cheechoo.

Mushkegowuk feels its communities already assets and agreements in place that lay the groundwork for a viable partnership with mining interests.

For example, Mushkegowuk’s Moose Cree First Nation and Taykwa Tagamou Nation have negotiated equity partnerships in power generation stations. Mushkegowuk’s member communities of Attawapiskat, Fort Albany and Kashachewan own Five Nations Energy which in turn owns an established transmission corridor, roughly 100 kilometres from the easterly limits of the Ring of Fire.

Furthermore, Mushkegowuk owns Western James Bay Telecom that has an existing fibre optic line to Attawapiskat from Moosonee.

“For us, it means a lot for the benefit of our communities and the potential development in the North of all of our communities — not only First Nations but for the whole region and Northern Ontario in terms of jobs and economic opportunities,” said Cheechoo.

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