Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-04-24 at 4:20PM

Strong foundation

 Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne addresses the media at the Valhalla Inn Thursday afternoon.
Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne addresses the media at the Valhalla Inn Thursday afternoon.
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- Ontario's premier says the province and Matawa First Nations have built a solid foundation for Ring of Fire negotiations.

Kathleen Wynne was in Thunder Bay Thursday at the Valhalla Inn to celebrate the signing of a framework agreement between the province and the nine First Nation communities late last month.

"What we want to do now is we want to start to work with communities and with businesses," said Wynne. "We all need to work together now to determine how we're going to take advantage of this terrific economic opportunity."

The framework is the first step in the process and the premier said the next discussions will be about infrastructure and the development corporation.

"(It's) about making sure we've got mechanisms where everyone can be at the table and we can determine how that infrastructure is going to be built," said Wynne.

Pulling from her experience as the former Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Wynne said in order to get the Ring of Fire right from the beginning, there has to be a lot of conversation.

A retooling of the relationship between First Nations and non-First Nations people is also necessary, she said.

"We need to put back the traditional notions of what's possible and what's not possible based on a history has not been respectful, that has not been a partnership," Wynne said.

The Matawa chiefs expressed their hope and optimism over the framework agreement and Aroland First Nation Chief Sonny Gagnon said he is excited about moving forward.

And while he's ready to see development in his community, Gagnon said he wants to make sure that long after the mining is done, the land will still be there.

"I want to reassure my children's children's children in the future that the environment is going to be there for them to carry on our traditions, our way of life," he said.

Gagnon wants to make it work - to bring development and maintain his way of life - so that Aroland can improve its quality of life by improving things like housing, education and running water.

Thursday's celebration included traditional First Nation ceremonies and a commemorative signing of the framework agreement.



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