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Treaties and Land Claims

What should consultation with Indigenous Peoples look like?

February 6, 2024

Ontario Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford said the province is meeting its duty to consult First Nations on the Ring of Fire. Photo by Alex Tétreault Listen to article

Canada’s National Observer: For more than a decade, leaders of Ontario’s three main political parties have vowed to open the Ring of Fire up to mining. But it has created conflict among First Nations. Some want development and others are skeptical.

Ontario has a constitutional duty to consult First Nations, but no laws explicitly require the consent of First Nations before approving development on their homelands. 

On March 29, 2023, leaders from five First Nations arrived at the provincial legislature in Toronto to call for a meeting with Premier Doug Ford.  Among them sat Chris and Wayne Moonias, leaders from Neskantaga First Nation and critics of how the province consulted First Nations about Ring of Fire development.

“Until such time as we provide our free, prior, informed consent to these plans and developments that are happening in our traditional homelands, they will not be,” Wayne told reporters. “You will not cross the river system. You will not build a road into the Ring of Fire until you get this free, prior informed consent of our people.”

Later that day, the visitors would sit in on the legislature and make sure the premier heard their concerns. 

As the Ontario government renews its push to mine the Ring of Fire, and the federal government implements international law on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, the calls are growing louder for Ontario to get the free, prior and informed consent of all First Nations near the Ring of Fire.

In Episode 4 of The Road, Isaac Phan Nay explores how Ontario’s consultation of First Nations clashes with international law on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

The Road podcast is a co-production between Isaac Phan Nay and Canada’s National Observer. Funding for this podcast comes from the Gordon Sinclair Foundation. Listen to Episode 4, Bulldozer, on your favourite listening app.