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Mining industry can anticipate conflict with First Nations unless changes made

Author: 
Compiled by Debora Steel
Volume: 
31
Issue: 
4
Year: 
2013

The mining industry can anticipate conflict with First Nations in the Ring of Fire region of Ontario if companies play by “old rules” and attempt to impose their will on communities, said Phil Fontaine, former Assembly of First Nations national chief.  “Resource interests should strive to negotiate with First Nations up front instead of the way it was done in the past, as an afterthought,” Fontaine told a crowd attending the Big Event mining expo in Timmins in June. Fontaine said the discovery of the Ring of Fire was greeted with “great excitement” about the “significant possibilities” for this region. But then there were concerns about traplines, traditional hunting grounds and land rights. So there are no guarantees that any community would say yes to all development.  “Every community has a right to say no, just as they have a right to say yes. It would be unreasonable to think that they would say yes (to proposed developments) all the time.” But that doesn’t mean First Nations are against all development. “It’s incumbent upon both parties to come together ... to talk about why the position may be no at this stage and how it can become yes. First Nation people are not anti-development. They are very much pro-development, in favour of pure responsible development.”

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