Marten Falls and Webequie pursue their socio-economic development goals in shepherding Northern Road Link environmental impact process
If your First Nation community harbours great ambitions to become a major project proponent, Gordon Wabasse offers some sage and simple advice. “Be prepared.” Wabasse, the lands and resources director of Webequie First Nation, participated in a panel discussion on the Ring of Fire at the inaugural Indigenous-led Projects Forum in Toronto, Sept. 27.
Wabasse and other James Bay regional leadership spoke of his community’s groundbreaking journey as one of the two Indigenous proponents overseeing the design and environmental impacts of a proposed all-season road into Far North, an Ontario first.
In seeking a better way of life, the communities of Webequie and Marten Falls boldly stuck their collective necks out to be the target of criticism by some neighbouring communities that are against the road and oppose mining-related development in the Ring of Fire on environmental grounds.
But the two First Nations have pushed back in asserting their sovereignty, territorial and treaty rights to community and economic wellbeing. “When we do projects inside of a reserve, nobody bothers us,” said Wabasse.