The chiefs of the Matawa First Nations are demanding a moratorium in the issuance of exploration permits in the Ring of Fire.
In a resolution passed by the leadership of the nine communities in the tribal council on Sept. 17, the chiefs want a regional protocol developed with the Ontario government before any further approvals are granted for mineral exploration activity in the James Bay region.
The chiefs said the province is moving forward on permitting companies which have not consulted with area First Nations.
They insist it breaks the spirit of a regional framework agreement signed last March between the chiefs and Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle. The agreement is supposed to be a foundational document to guide future mining and infrastructure development in the Far North.
The chiefs believed the document was an acknowledgement by the province of their traditional territories and that development wouldn’t proceed without local consent, accommodation and compensation.
The Matawa chiefs are asking for “substantive funding” to negotiate a regional protocol with the province and want the province to share all the permit applications submitted by mining companies operating within the Matawa traditional territory.
Back in July, the chiefs signed a Unity Declaration, a solidarity document to do “whatever is necessary in order to protect our land, our water and our resources for future generations.”
In early September, some Northern chiefs questioned the province’s transparency in formally establishing a Ring of Fire development corporation without Aboriginal inclusion and consultation on its management makeup.