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First Nations and the New Deal

The New Deal for Northern Ontario fully recognizes the rights of First Nations communities in Ontario’s North and values their input as stakeholders and beneficiaries of the initiative.

Consultations with First Nations leaders have been underway since the New Deal’s inception. Those discussions have made it clear that the First Nations communities must have equitable access to the training, employment and economic opportunities that will result from a revitalized ONTC and development of the Ring of Fire.

This was a key consideration in the decision to seek the establishment of a ports authority operating under the Canada Marine Act. This will provide a mandate for the ONTC to:

  • Enable and ensure that the First Nation communities have direct governance participation in a federal Crown corporation;
  • Establish and coordinate infrastructure systems for the benefit of the region’s residents, including First Nations; and
  • Ensure that the social, economic and environmental benefits of the Ring of Fire are shared with the people in this territory as they are realized over time.

Sharing new revenues generated in the Ring of Fire with First Nations will enhance local development opportunities. First Nations have suggested that Community Economic Development Corporations own Regional Economic Development Corporations in a structure proposed as follows.

 

 

Proposed First Nations Regional Economic Development Corporations: Organizational Chart

Economic Development Corporations

The provincial government is committed to revenue sharing and the full participation of the Ring of Fire communities, particularly those closest to future mining activity. Moreover, Ontario is laying the groundwork for a new model of First Nations engagement and is calling on the federal government to engage in discussions with First Nations communities near the Ring of Fire.

Both First Nations and industry see government resource revenue sharing discussions as a necessary precursor to advancing the development of the Ring of Fire by providing for stability and investor certainty. To this end, in 2010, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Ministry of Natural Resources, Webequie First Nation and Marten Falls First Nation signed a Letter of Intent reaffirming their commitment to work together on issues related to development in the Ring of Fire.

 

Environmental Assessment and Consultation

A draft project description of the proposed Ring of Fire Railroad and Port of Koper Lake has been reviewed with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).

The CEAA has been notified of Canada Chrome Corporation’s plan to develop a scheduled program of community consultations with all affected First Nations, before submitting its Project Environmental Assessment application. To ensure that the consultations are thorough and holistic, the Matawa Tribal Council’s Mining Co-ordinator has been solicited for recommendations. In addition, the leadership of all affected communities have been regularly consulted in the development of the project plan outline.

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