Marten Falls First Nation Chief Eli Moonias says province must recognize their voice
When the Chief of Marten Falls First Nation met with the Ontario mining minister Tuesday, he planned to tell him it’s time for the province to follow through on its treaty promises.
Minister Rick Bartolucci was expected to explain the province’s proposed framework for moving ahead with the Ring of Fire mining development and what benefits it might bring the First Nation. Chief Eli Moonias said the people in Marten Falls are looking for a lot more than the small amount of money each band member receives on treaty day.
“Since 1905, all we have had with the province is the four dollars per year that they pay,” Moonias said. “Now, here is an opportunity to do treaty implementation.” Moonias said that means the province must recognize First Nations will have the ultimate say in how — or even if — a mine is built.
A spokesperson for Bartolucci said the minister didn’t want to speak to CBC in advance of the meeting. However, Ontario has high hopes that a mining project in the province’s far north will rejuvenate its stagnant economy.
Premier Dalton McGuinty recently said “failure is not an option, success is mandatory” when it comes to developing the Ring of Fire.
So far, the people in Marten Falls say the government is failing them.
The province has already struck a private deal with American mining company, Cliffs Natural Resources.
It will see a road built right through Gordon Baxter’s trap line, and over the main spawning ground for fish in the river.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to stop it, they’re just going to continue with the road I guess and I guess the fish will get destroyed and they’ll be no fish in the future for my kids,” Baxter said.
Bartolucci is expected to bring more details about how the province will help First Nations prepare for the proposed Cliffs chromite mine.
Moonias said he’ll hear Bartolucci out, but he wants the minister to understand the province can’t assume they have his support.
“I’d like to explore [treaty implementation] further, before I come right out and say, ‘no … get out of here.’”
Moonias said he’s looking for commitments on a road, electricity and revenue sharing for the community.
For a radio interview with Marten Fall First Nation Chief Moonias, please go to the CBC Radio Thunder Bay: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/story/2012/06/12/tby-bartolucci-marten-falls.html