First Nation concerns dominate Ring of Fire forum – by Karen McKinley (Northern Ontario Business – April 25, 2018)

Education, impact to Indigenous communities hot topics at Mining Science Cafe in Sudbury focusing on development plans

The Ring of Fire has been touted as a massive economic windfall for the province and country, but there are serious questions over how it will benefit Indigenous people and community development.

A standing-room only crowd packed a private dining room at the Tap House Northern Grill and Pub in Sudbury on April 24. The panel included Alan Coutts, president and CEO of Noront Resources Ltd., Roy Slack, president of Cementation and Aime Dimatteo, director general of FedNor.

While there were many questions about roads, ecology, mine structure and economics, questions over the impact to Indigenous communities, employment opportunities and even education and substance addiction garnered the most attention.

One audience member pointed out that half the population of one of the northwest communities had substance abuse problems, and many other communities are impoverished, causing a power imbalance with treaties not being met.

Dimatteo said they are addressing this by empowering the communities so they can lead in decision making. The federal government, he said, have given more than $124 million for more than 200 projects to build capacity. However, he said they are lacking human resources.

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