Mining consultations continue even as water stops flowing for Neskantaga First Nation – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – October 28, 2020)

Consultation on the environmental assessment for a road to mineral deposit in northern Ontario will proceed even as one of the First Nations affected has been emptied out by an emergency.

Neskantaga First Nation was evacuated last week after the community water supply was shut down when an oily substance was discovered in the reservoir. Nearly all of its 300 residents are staying in hotels, about 450 kilometres away, in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Meanwhile, consultations on the terms of reference that will set the stage for environmental assessment on a mining supply road through Neskantaga’s traditional territory continue. Ontario has a constitutional duty to consult First Nations when their treaty rights may be impacted.

“As the environmental assessment process moves forward, the ministry will remain flexible in our approach to consultation,” a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks said in an email to CBC News.

The end date for comments for this phase of the environmental assessment on the road has already been pushed back twice and is now set for Nov. 30. Before the current water crisis, Neskantaga had asked for the consultations to be put off because the pandemic makes it impossible to safely gather knowledge holders to provide input.

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