Written by Press Release on 08 May 2012
First Nation seeks Freedom of Information for Confidential Agreements between Mining Firm and Province
AROLAND FIRST NATION, ON – Aroland First Nation has filed a request for disclosure to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) on information relating to Cliffs Chromite mining project in the area, known as the Ring of Fire under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).
Aroland is one of the First Nations that will be directly impacted from the Cliffs initiative which includes the construction of an open pit mine, ore processing facility, ferrochrome production facility and an integrated transport system that will include a 340 kilometer North-South all-season road corridor from the mine site to just west of the community of Aroland. A number of major environmental impacts have already been identified and has raised concerns with First Nations closeby.
The decision to file a freedom of information request was made when it came to light that the Ontario Government and Cliffs have been holding confidential meetings, concealing information and are preparing to make an announcement.
“We need to find out what has been going on behind closed doors. Our community is going to be impacted by the Cliffs project along with many others, but we were not part of these meetings, nor were local municipalities. We believe Cliffs and the province are holding discussions behind all of our backs about the ferrochrome processing plant, the, the infrastructure, and more,” said Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation.
The Chief went on to explain, “We need to find out the extent of these exclusive meetings. They are deciding the future for everyone in Northwestern Ontario without consulting any of us. Furthermore this a breach of our constitutional right under section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1980 which guarantees First Nations the right to be consulted and accommodated on matters that affect them and their traditional lands.
Aroland’s request seeks records in the possession of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and any provincial department and ministry with which the MNDM participated in the decision to site the Cliffs Natural Resources Ferrochrome Production Facility in the greater Sudbury area, near Capreol.
“This is exactly why a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment does not work for First Nations. We want a negotiated Joint Review Panel, we want to fully participate, we want to protect our land, our people and exercise our Aboriginal Treaty Rights. We don’t want to be a victim of the Comprehensive Study EA and end up like Attawapiskat,” Chief Gagnon added.
Aroland First Nation (2006 Population 325) is an Ojibwa and Oji-Cree First Nation in the Canadian province of Ontario, located in the Thunder Bay District approximately 20 kilometers west of Nakina in Greenstone.