Aroland anxious for ‘gateway’ role in Ring of Fire – by Carl Clutchey (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – September 7, 2017)

As efforts continue to obtain unanimous indigenous consent for two major access roads into Northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire mining belt, at least one First Nation is sounding reassured that its interests are being met.

Aroland First Nation Chief Dorothy Towedo said Wednesday the province has agreed to work with the band and fulfil its goal of becoming the Ring of Fire’s “gateway.” “Ontario is now clear,” Towedo said in a news release. “It is committed to working with Aroland and other First Nations for planning potential mining and related infrastructure developments.”

She added: “This commitment is a necessary part of obtaining consent.” Towedo said her community, located adjacent to an existing provincial highway near Nakina, felt assured after receiving a supportive letter from Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle.

Towedo said Gravelle encouraged Aroland to forge ahead with business development and transportation corridor studies with a view for the band to become “a regional hub.” Gravelle’s office didn’t address the letter Wednesday, but said it is “committed to working with Matawa-member First Nations to move forward on priorities identified in the Regional Framework Agreement.”

“The government is also working bilaterally with communities who are ready to advance discussions on multi-purpose, all-season roads,” a spokesman added.

Aroland says while it is mindful of potential environmental impacts on its traditional territory, it “is also strongly in favour of sustainable resource development and improving regional infrastructure for community well-being.”

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