Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Federal and Ontario Governments Pay for Study on How to Ignite the Ring of Fire

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Federal and Ontario Governments Pay for Study on How to Ignite the Ring of Fire

Article excerpt

Feds, Ontario jointly invest in Ring of Fire

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TORONTO - Some of Canada's most remote and impoverished First Nations communities isolated within northern Ontario's so called Ring of Fire region are getting funding to conduct a study on how to open the area to development.

However at least one critic suggested the study, which is to look at establishing a year-round transportation corridor in part to allow mining operations, would be redundant.

The study will be led by the Webequie First Nation in partnership with the First Nations of Eabametoong, Neskantaga and Nibinamik, with the federal and Ontario governments each contributing $393,814.

Various stakeholders have been discussing for years how to connect the region. It has been widely agreed that economic development of the Ring of Fire would be very limited without some way to connect it to the rest of the world.

"We've always struggled to connect with the mainstream society, and I think as we move forward we will eventually connect with the real world and then hopefully we see the benefits that we always strive for," said Webequie First Nation Chief Cornelius Wabasse, adding that the remote community is only accessible by air in the summertime and by road in the winter months.

Nibinamik First Nations Chief Johnny Yellowhead said he was apprehensive of working with the provincial government at first but is pleased with the results.

"I was told when we started approaching Ontario -- you'll never get Ontario to listen to you," he said. "But I'm glad they're here, even the federal minister. We're making progress as we go and I'm very grateful to see that."

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford and Ontario Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle made the announcement at a mining conference in Toronto on Sunday.

"What does that mean for this region?" Rickford said. "It means that communities will have the opportunity to work collaboratively to assess, plan and develop a shared transportation solution that will open the door for future development in northwestern Ontario. …

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