Matawa First Nations drops legal challenge to Ring of Fire project

The nine Anishinaabe communities represented by the Matawa First Nations – spread across the James Bay Treaty #9 and the Robinson Superior Treaty areas – have dropped their legal challenge to a major chromite project by Cliffs Natural Resources in the Ring of Fire region, just as the challenge was about to be heard in Federal court this week.

In an interview on the Ring of Fire with CBC back on June 27, 2013, Deputy Gran Chief of Nishnabe Aski Nation – which represents First Nations within the James Bay Treaty #9 area – Les Louttit said that “we have not been involved in any of those planning efforts” and hinted at “revenue sharing” and a ”First Nations royalty tax regime” as outstanding concerns of the communities he represented.

In a media release last week, however, Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation said “When we started the court case [back in late 2011] there was no negotiation table so we were pushed into a corner. There’s a forum for discussions with Ontario now.” The Matawa Tribal Council no longer believes that spending money in the courts is necessary.

The Ring of Fire is a 5000 km2 area southwest of James Bay with an estimated $50 billion of nickel, copper, platinum and chromite deposits. The proposed infrastructure for the chromite project will cross over 100 bodies of water, four major rivers, and will be located in the ecologically sensitive James Bay Lowlands. The region’s Boreal Forest contains the largest series of intact wetlands in the world and sequester 25 years worth of the world’s carbon emissions.

Bob Rae – former premier of the Ontario government and most recently leader of Canada’s Liberal Party – left parliament back in June 2013 to represent the Matawa First Nations in their negotiations.

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