At least six First Nations in the region sent letters to federal Impact Assessment Agency demanding more time
With pressure growing on the relatively new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada to delay consultation on the regional impact assessment in the Ring of Fire mineral development region in northern Ontario, the federal government has relented and offered more time and support for First Nations to participate in the process.
That decision came after a letter was sent to the agency on Dec. 10 that was jointly signed by the chiefs of five First Nations in northern Ontario asking for the deadline of Jan. 21, 2021, to be pushed back because of capacity issues related to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the letter, the chiefs wrote, “we do not want the [regional assessment] to start off on a track that is short and leads to dead ends; that does not make full use of the opportunity presented here and ends up being mere window dressing.”
Prior to 2020, the federal Liberal government had not played a major public-facing role in the proposed mining developments in the Ring of Fire area, given that the Canadian Constitution grants jurisdiction of natural resource development to the provincial governments.
That changed in February, when federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson announced that the government would initiate a regional assessment of the Ring of Fire area.