Consultation process pits First Nation against First Nation in northern Ontario – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – September 29, 2020)

Two First Nations in northern Ontario are facing off in a confrontation set up by the province’s environmental assessment regime.

Webequie First Nation is seeking response to the terms of reference it submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on August 14, for a proposed 107-kilometre supply road to a mineral deposit in the Ring of Fire.

The terms of reference (ToR) is the framework for the environmental assessment for the road before it is built. Provincial regulations require consultation on that framework with other First Nations whose traditional territory may be impacted by the project and who indicate they want to be consulted.

Neighbouring Neskantaga First Nation wants to be consulted, but it’s chief says cannot meaningfully do so during the pandemic.

“We find it irresponsible for the proponent [Webequie First Nation] to submit it’s ToR for the project during the COVID pandemic,” Chief Chris Moonais wrote in a letter to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, dated Sept. 23 and obtained by CBC News.

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