Chief Bruce Achneepineskum’s community of Marten Falls is one of the closest First Nations to the proposed mining mega-development known as Ontario’s Ring of Fire. That’s why he, like other First Nations leaders, wants a greater say in what happens across the 5,000-square-kilometre tract of Treaty 9 territory.
“This is Marten Falls ancestral land, and we’d like to take the lead on any government processes that happen on our lands, but I don’t know if this is going to be the case,” Achneepineskum said on Nation to Nation. “The government makes the law. They make the policy, and First Nations are merely, right now, pawns in that scheme.”
For more than a decade, mining firms have sought to unearth vast deposits of minerals that lie beneath the remote wetlands south of James Bay. On March 17, Premier Doug Ford released Ontario’s new critical minerals strategy, a five-year plan to unleash a multi-billion-dollar economic windfall and position the province as a global mining power.
His minister of northern development touted the plan and encouraged federal parliamentarians to support it during testimony at the House industry committee on Tuesday. “Leave us alone to move ahead with what we’re calling the corridor to prosperity,” Greg Rickford urged MPs. “We don’t build mines in Ontario as a government; we provide the right conditions for those to proceed.”
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