[Ring of Fire conflict] We won’t be ignored, chiefs warn – by Sudbury Star Staff (Sudbury Star – October 21, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

First Nation communities in the Ring of Fire area are threatening ‘alternative action’ to block a federal environmental assessment of Cliffs Natural Resources’ Black Thor chromite deposit.

In a release Thursday, the Matawa chiefs said they want a joint environmental assessment. The chiefs, who represent nine First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario, want Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene in the environmental assessment process.

The chiefs have called a news conference Friday to detail their concerns. In their release, the chiefs did not say what alternative action might entail.

“We will be forced to resort to alternative measures if Canada and Ontario continue to ignore the First Nations that are being impacted by Ring of Fire developments,” Chief Roger Wesley of Constance Lake First Nation said in a release.

The chiefs said the manner in which the senior levels of government are proceeding with development in Northern Ontario threatens to slowly destroy their traditional way of life, extinguish their treaty rights and destroy their homelands and their children’s future.

“We want development, but we also want to make sure that our lands, waters, wildlife and our way of life are not destroyed in the process,” Wesley said.

“The government is forcing us to take alternative action. They are not listening to us or consulting us in a meaningful way and they are certainly not accommodating us.”

The Matawa chiefs say they are angry that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is proceeding with an environmental assessment. The chiefs have been calling for a joint assessment for five months, but they say no one is listening.

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