City eager to work with chiefs on rail link to Ring of Fire – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – February 5, 2015)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Lawrence Martin says the chiefs and Elders who gathered in Kashechewan last week agreed to the idea of taking over Ontario Northland Railway and extending rail service to the Ring Of Fire.

Along with that, Martin said he wants Timmins to be included in the venture with this city becoming the site of a new chromite ore refinery. Timmins Mayor Steve Black said he supports the Mushkegowuk initiative.

The idea, which was first revealed by The Daily Press two week ago, seeks to expand the Ontario Northland rail link north beyond Moosonee, to include other communities on the James Bay coast and on to the Ring of Fire.

Martin, who is meeting with government officials in Toronto this week, said he was more than pleased with the fact that the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council annual general assembly, held in Kashechewan last week, gave full support to the railway expansion idea.

“Yes, it went very well,” Martin said. “What we did first is show the people all the activity in and around the area, all the mining claims in our territories, some of the exploration work that is going on now and the expansion of De Beers and, of course, all this talk of the Ring Of Fire.”

Martin said it was important for the member communities to each have a say in the idea. This includes the Moose Cree First Nation, Kashechewan, Fort Albany, Attawapiskat, Weenusk, Taykwa Tagamou, the Chapleau Cree and the Missanabie Cree.

“Only the elders spoke. It was amazing,” said Martin. “The elders spoke, each one from each community. And what they said was, we understand there is a change that is going on with our people. And our young people are demanding a change with how we do business. But we must always honour the land and the environment and so we give you this permission to proceed and continue talking with the proponents, with the industry, with the government because we want to get our young people to move forward.”

Martin said it was an important show of respect and solidarity from the First Nations of Mushkegowuk.

“It was amazing. The chiefs supported what the Elders said. And we passed a motion for me to be proceed and to be really cautious in protecting the environment, the culture and the language and who we are as Mushkegowuk people.”

The Ring of Fire refers to a massive deposit of chromite located in the McFauld’s Lake and Webequie area, about 600 kilometres northwest of Timmins. Chromite is an important mineral element in manufacturing stainless steel. The Ring of Fire area could become the largest chromite mining site in North America, a venture measured in the tens of billions of dollars.

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