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First Nations and Ontario One Step Closer to Building All-Season Roads in the Ring of Fire

March 5, 2024

NationTalk: TORONTO – The Ontario government, Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation have signed an agreement to develop community infrastructure projects that could support future development opportunities in the area, including building all-seasons roads to the mineral-rich Ring of Fire region.

“I want to commend Marten Falls First Nation Chief Bruce Achneepineskum and Webequie First Nation Chief Cornelius Wabasse for their vision and commitment to building stronger communities,” said George Pirie, Minister of Mines. “Their leadership and dedication to making progress on these important infrastructure projects is helping to build the corridor to prosperity. These roads would enhance the well-being and livelihoods of their communities by improving access to critical goods and services. The road network would also unlock the generational critical minerals potential in the Ring of Fire region.”

The Community Development Agreement, signed during a ceremony today at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto, commits the province to supporting shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Those could include construction of health and training facilities, recreation centres, commercial buildings and labour force development programs. These projects would help improve the well-being and readiness of the First Nations to participate fully in the construction of road projects that would connect the Ring of Fire critical mineral deposits with manufacturing hubs in the south, paving the way for made-in-Ontario supply chains for batteries and electric vehicles.

“As we move forward to now begin to consider road construction and operations, our commitment remains to be strong stewards of our lands and our environment, in balance with being active partners in growing economic opportunities and benefits for both our communities and other First Nation communities,” said Marten Falls First Nation Chief Bruce Achneepineskum.

“Being at the table in the planning and implementation of road development is key to building a foundation for our future, a future that reflects our community vision, well-being and prosperity,” said Webequie First Nation Chief Cornelius Wabasse.

Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations are currently leading three Environmental Assessments (EA) for the roads that would become the corridor to prosperity. Today’s agreement would commit the province and the two First Nations to work together to make decisions about the construction, ownership and operation of the road network, should the EAs be approved. This collaboration will accelerate project timelines and ensure the communities are ready to participate in future economic development opportunities in the region.

The three parties are all committed to ensuring their collaboration will continue to be grounded in the foundational principles of Bimachiiowin. For Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations, that means enhancing the communities’ well-being and livelihoods, including a focus on long-term sustainability to protect the land and the people’s future in a good way. Both Ontario and these two lead First Nations acknowledge the critical importance of further developing relationships and partnerships with neighbouring First Nations and to incorporate their interests into the plans for road construction.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is supporting the First Nations-led Environmental Assessments through a Crown consultation process that ensures the Crown’s Duty to Consult obligations are met on all proposed road projects.
  • Together, the Webequie Supply Road, Marten Falls Community Access Road and Northern Road Link would connect these two First Nation communities to the Ontario highway network and provide access to the mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire, should the necessary approvals be received.
  • Economic development in the Ring of Fire area will create opportunities to share economic benefits and support the long-term prosperity of Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation.
  • Ontario’s Ring of Fire region, located approximately 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and covering about 5,000 square kilometres, is one of the most promising mineral development opportunities for critical minerals in the province.
  • Ontario’s mining sector is a significant economic driver, supporting 78,000 jobs in the mining industry, which produces $13.5 billion worth of minerals that contribute approximately $13 billion to Ontario’s GDP every year.

Additional Resources

Ontario’s Ring of Fire

Ontario’s Critical Minerals Strategy

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