THUNDER BAY – The First Nations whose lands and resources will be most affected by the proposed Ring of Fire development met today to sign a protocol agreement. “This will not only be good for us, but will also be good for the exploration companies to know the protocols for exploration on our mutual traditional lands”, stated Chief Cornelius Wabasse of Webequie First Nation.
Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation today entered into a “Negotiation Protocol Respecting Early Exploration in the Ring of Fire”. The protocol strengthens the commitment of both First Nations to work together to advance their common interests in a coordinated manner while respecting their mutual and unique interests over their respective lands and approvals to use the lands.
The need for such a protocol is evidenced by over 100 mineral exploration companies that have staked claims and proposed other related developments in the Ring of Fire. Both Marten Falls and Webequie agreed that they had to be come together to set out their mutual expectations respecting early exploration activities in the Ring of Fire.
Within the Ring of Fire only Webequie and Marten Falls share a unique relationship with Ontario. The Government of Ontario entered into a Memorandum of Cooperation with Webequie and a Memorandum of Understanding with Marten Falls related to mineral exploration and development activities.
Both of these agreements are recognized in the Matawa Chiefs Framework agreement with Ontario as being a priority with Ontario. Interim Chief Bruce Achneepineskum of Marten Falls First Nation reiterated the importance of recognizing the MOC and MOU with Ontario. “Our traditional area is wholly within the Ring of Fire. We have a responsibility to the land and our Nation to ensure that all exploration activities that take place have our approval”.
Both Webequie and Marten Falls agree that the Protocol Agreement is a positive step forward to responsible development within their respective traditional areas.