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2012-05-15 at 13:32

'I'm willing to die'

By Jamie Smith,
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Peter Moonias says he’s willing to die if that’s what it takes to stop the Ring of Fire development.

As chief of Neskantaga, a First Nations community 280 kilometres North of Geraldton, Moonias said the provincial government is breaking the law by not consulting with First Nations.

“I’m willing to die on it,” he said. “I’m willing to give up my life on it that’s how far I want to go. I can’t go any further than that. I’m serious and I challenge anybody to challenge me on it. Anybody, I don’t care. I challenge anyone.”

Moonias said holding open houses in places like Thunder Bay and Geraldton is not meaningful consultation. He warned that from now on, government and industry are not going to have an easy time trying to develop in his backyard. One of the ways he wants to accomplish this is starting to police the river system near the proposed mining development.

Putting First Nations people in jail or killing them might be the only way for people to start listening, he said.

“The government is going to kill my young children, my grandchildren. The government is going to take away everything from my grandchildren,” he said.

“The government is going to take away the land, the livelihood of my people, the waters, the clean waters that we have right now. The government is going to take away that.”

“Am I supposed to be overjoyed because of that? For 450 jobs that they’re going to create in Sudbury and 1,200 jobs altogether that they’re going to create and kill 400 people in my First Nation.”

The actions taken by the government and other parties have shown that no one is listening to First Nation concerns from Cliffs Natural Resources announcement last week that it will build a ferrochrome processor near Sudbury to the failure by the federal government to ensure a joint-panel review environmental assessment.

Moonias said travelling to meet with industry and government leaders at this point is useless.

“They don’t listen. They don’t have any ears. They don’t’ have any open ears for our First Nations people,” he said.

Willing to put his own life on the line, Moonias thinks more First Nations leaders are willing to go as far as him to protect the environment and people.

The government’s actions should be a red flag for everyone in Ontario because the people are the ones who elected them, he added.

Moonias sent a letter to Northern Development and Mines minister Rick Bartolucci late last week saying the failure to consult with First Nations before making decisions on the project, including the north/south all-weather road that will go through Neskantaga, unconscionable.

Bartolucci could not be reached for comment but his office did release a statement through an email to Dougall Media.

“Our government is committed to ensuring that our duty to consult is met throughout the Ring of Fire development. We have had several discussions with First Nations communities for some time now, and are committed to an ongoing dialogue,” the email states.

“While much work has already been done, formal discussions moving forward will focus on meaningful outcomes in key areas that must be addressed well into the future. Those discussions will pertain to issues identified such as socioeconomic supports, regional, environmental monitoring and resource revenue sharing – items that area First Nations have told us are their priority.”

Every year the province spends $8 million on remote Ring of Fire communities to address identified needs Bartolucci’s office said. 

Moonias' letter can be read here.

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Chaos says:
Peter Moonias I got your back. I read your letter to the Minister and must say amen!
5/15/2012 1:50:34 PM
theonlyopinionthatmatters says:
People don't seem to understand that the government does not care about the people anymore (if ever?), only corporations and money.

I feel for these people, but sadly they will be ignored. And if they retaliate, will no doubt be jailed.
5/15/2012 2:06:16 PM
unknowncronic says:
The land is ALL OF OURS!

This world is millions of years old!

5/15/2012 2:23:05 PM
Delbert Grady says:
Exactly. Traditional lands or not, its Crown land and I refuse to be extorted out of it.
5/15/2012 2:53:18 PM
Tiredofit says:
Delbert, get a map and check the first nations boudary, you'll see that it is in fact there land, the balance of it was once theirs as well until our ancestors bamzboozeled them out of it.

You say you don't want to be extorted out of it? What goes around eh.....

As a white man it sickens me the way my fellow man has treated and still treats fist nations to this day.

All Toronto and Ottawa care about are the industries that line their pockets and pay for their parties platforms (and pockets I'm sure).
5/15/2012 3:10:14 PM
moi says:
OMG!,back the trailer up...Mr. Grady and I actually agree on something.
5/15/2012 7:06:29 PM
hockeyskates says:
I guess you don't mind then if I drive my 4 x 4 around your backyard ?
5/15/2012 4:24:01 PM
nvjgu says:
Well at least FN's are able to do something. I don't know why there not mineing the stuff themselves.
5/15/2012 2:36:52 PM
advocate says:
I do not know about this particular case, but you would be surprised about how many times people are consulted and then say they were never consulted. Plus, with elections every two years, many of these communities have new leaders that now want to be consulted.
5/15/2012 2:55:25 PM
vimeo says:
Really?..."they’re going to create and kill 400 people in my First Nation.”

I think kill is a bit harsh.

I agree there needs to be consultation, but I'd beg to guess if there was a monetary compensation involved the word "kill" would be lightened.
5/15/2012 3:19:02 PM
NLE says:
Why does everyone down want to blame the office reps. down south
maybe if our local politicians were doing their jobs as opposed to glorifying their trip out of town, more realistic vision would have been known ahead of time (particularly at the time of the meetings held)
5/15/2012 3:46:00 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
THE Resource Rip-Off of the Century, brought to you by pathological liar, Dalton McGuinty, and with the Police backing up his Gang.
5/15/2012 3:59:17 PM
countrychick says:
Well when northwesten ontario had apsolutly no industry or opportunites and no future what so ever and all of our children had to move out of the area because of lack of job or a real future here, we will have all of you to thank for it!! If they kill this it will kill this area!
5/15/2012 4:21:55 PM
Counterpunch says:
We have the LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE of any city or town in Ontario. And we do this with very little industry.
5/15/2012 4:25:58 PM
Delbert Grady says:
Thanks to government welfare. The people who are employed are getting their salary from the government. The people who arent employed are getting their money from that same government.

Seems like a great long term plan, doesnt it?
5/15/2012 4:39:58 PM
yup says:
i dont get what you are trying to say. what does welfare have to do with this?
5/16/2012 12:25:59 AM
DougMyers says:
You often claim that our city runs on government dollars.

Do you have any numbers to back that up with?

What is the percentage of private versus public dollars here?
5/16/2012 8:17:40 AM
Tom Sanderson says:
I agree with 100% with Mr. Moonias. Have any of you ever been to an open pit mine site? They destroy the land forever. The tailing ponds leech into the watershed rendering the water unusable for human consumption for ever.....that is forever. There is no magic formula to pour into the pond and reverse the damage.
Those suits down in Ottawa or our local MPs only care about themselves and their pensions. The meetings they have had with the nations involved are only patronizing. The could care less about the native culture and tradition and will grease as many palms as they can to get this disaster off the ground. The government knows that many of the Chiefs they are negotiating with only have about grade 8 education so it's easy to make promises and confuse these chiefs and throw the deal on the table and get them to sign off. It is disgusting how our elected representatives put the screws to this country. Raise hell Peter :)
5/15/2012 5:21:16 PM
Circular_Logic says:
Tom; never forget that there is a HUGE difference between education and intelligence. That said, I do believe that Moonias is over the top with his statement.

Country Chick; you need to open your eyes. There is a lot more going on here than lumberjacking. Any resource-based industry is by definition self-limitimg absent meaningful renewability effort. That's what did for the forestry sector; unbrideled greed.
5/17/2012 2:57:22 AM
Joey Joe Joe Jr. Shabadoo says:

your welcome in my back 40 anytime!
5/15/2012 5:29:38 PM
crazyforweed says:
This is seriously starting to get ridiculous .....
5/15/2012 5:37:18 PM
wayne says:
As a person of First Nations ancestry, I empathize, but I cannot support this lose-lose scenario for ALL residents of Ontario. Moonias is being a drama queen.
5/15/2012 6:33:11 PM
jimmyboy says:
Peter Moonias = DRAMA QUEEN.!!!
5/15/2012 6:49:19 PM
kennyc says:
People like this are the reason Ontario is broke. Without the forestry sector thriving this is the only project left to salvage our province.
5/15/2012 6:59:52 PM
alarmforce says:
"And by willing to die, how does that help your people?
I suggest there has been many meeting involving every level of government and industry "to help your people" maybe you should attend them or follow the direction of the representive's of your people you sent, or are representing your people. You are looking for nothing more than sensation publication because you are a "First Nations Leader" give it up... join the negotions or like you say "Die" ... what will that accomplish other than get rid of your say.
5/15/2012 9:32:27 PM
ThunderBayFullOfCrime says:

We may have a low unemployment rate but how many of the employed here work for minimum wage p/t?

We have to keep our waters pure and our natural settings unpolluted.
5/15/2012 9:47:13 PM
tbay99 says:
Peter Moonias is uneducated and embarrassing.
5/15/2012 9:51:38 PM
eastender says:
To Peter Moonias: Better to bend like a blade of grass in the wind, than to stand tall and defy the wind like a tree, only to be blown over by the wind. Ancient Chinese proverb.
5/15/2012 10:19:39 PM
tudor says:
For Delbert. Cut the gov't jobs, cut the gov't support for infrastructure, cut the gov't support for welfare and health. Then tell me how much better off we will be. Then we can read the other complainers tell us how we always get ignored.

For Mr. Moonias, please tell us what the answer is. What exactly must the gov't do to make this right by your people. Consultation seems to be the new buzz word. What does it mean. Do we talk. Do you have to agree with the gov't. Does the gov't have to agree with you. Do you get 5 jobs or 5000. Do you get a dollar or a million. What exactly do you expect and want from the gov't because more talk seems to just create the need for more talk. If you do not want economic development in your area for all native people, just say so. I can live with that position if that is what your people want. But right now, I haven't a clue what they want. Please tell us.
5/15/2012 11:18:16 PM
Arch Stanton says:
"Peter Moonias says he’s willing to die if that’s what it takes to stop the Ring of Fire development."

5/15/2012 11:26:44 PM
julia says:
why is it all you boozoos can't except the fact that the history of canada and the native people who were here before europeans, get with it already geez, wake up
5/15/2012 11:31:26 PM
DougMyers says:
It would seem that people already do "except" the facts.

Perhaps you would be happier if they would "accept" the facts.

Ironically, miscommunication is, in part, what has and is causing many of the issues today.
5/16/2012 11:24:34 AM
random says:
Whats your point. It doesn't matter who got here first, that is history. It is who is here now.
5/16/2012 2:50:21 PM
razzz says:
The public fails to realize the complexity and the frustration of First Nations.FNs signed treaty agreements with the Queen,Canada is the middle man who has been failing in their duty to consult and accomodate.Resource dev projects CANNOT move ahead without the free-prior n informed consent of FNs directly impacted.FNs have the same power as the gov, its been proven in court, their rights are now recognized internationally and under section 35 of the Constitution. FNs have a right to self-governance & to protect their culturual, traditional way of life at all cost.The companies think that having an open house in a city far away from the communities or having agreements with 1 or 2 communities is consultation? Hell no.Sending a 80pg technical document to a band office is MEANINGFUL consultation? Hell no. Having backroom negotiations without FNs at the table, consultation? Hell no. Do any of these grant u permission? NO. Thats is a breach of section 35 of FN treaty rights. GO CHIEF PETER
5/16/2012 9:03:59 AM
kindafunny says:
There are 3 reserves up there, the one Moonias runs is the only one with an all season road. This development would have meant full season road access to those other reserves,but now they won't get it. How is that helping first nation people?
5/16/2012 9:15:14 AM
razzz says:
Chief Moonias community is a remote and only accessible by air or winter ice road.

Same as Eabametoong, Marten Falls, Webequie and Nibinamik.

The Matawa First Nations have stated they are not opposed or against development and the benefits that come with it. BUT they have to be sitting at the table when the decisions are being made. Thats their right and it will be protected.

If the gov and companies think that they're just going to stream roll through and rob and rape these communities they are going to face a tough reality. These people have lived there and off the land since time immemorial. When the gov tried to assimilate them through cultural genocide and residential schools, what kept the alive was their way of life.They are apart of the land. FNS are strong, they been living through recessions forever. They want development but on their terms. After being put in a vice grip by this gov, they will no longer stand and watch, they will stand together!
5/16/2012 9:52:02 AM
ibrando says:
according to Haida v. British Columbia, [2004] and Taku River Tlingit First Nation v. British Columbia, [2004] the crown has a duty to consult when development takes place on "traditional lands" that are the subject of a current land claim. If this is the case here then the government is clearly in the wrong. There is no duty to consult for industry, this is the governments responsibility. We should all wait for more information on this matter before spewing out propoganda.
5/16/2012 10:41:46 AM
razzz says:
I have the info. First Nations have been building capacity with land use plans and GIS mapping to plot their traditional-ancestral territory. It is very clear that the proposed development & associated infrastructure will affect the hunting, fishing, trapping, harvesting and sacred burial sites of the Matawa communities. When the way of life of FNs peoples are threatened then it is a human rights issue that the gov wont win. You are right that its the gov duty to consult but with the mining act being provincial they are passing the buck onto industry. Its a game the gov plays, when FNs approach the province, they are redirected to the federal gov because FNs are on the federal level of gov. The gov has been doing this for years, trying to change policies and legislation to their benefit. None of these changes trump the power of the Charter of Rights and Constitution which FNs have. The proposed transportation corridor is on Chief Eli Moonias trapline. He has to have a say!
5/16/2012 11:53:28 AM
concerned says:
Has anybody ever thought about the number of lives the residential schools have saved? Many of the of the younger people endured many hardships being placed in the schools, had the people not been placed in the schools they would have possibly staved due to the parents not being able to provide for them by traditional means. I realize it is very harsh but people have to start living in the future not the past.As we all know nothing is constant and change happens and if we don't adapt we will be left behind.
5/16/2012 11:55:59 AM
NLE says:
5/16/2012 12:03:45 PM
Marshall says:
They way I read this story is, Mr. Moonias isn't asking for consultation or inclusion, he just wants the Ring of Fire development to never happen at all so his land will remain untouched. Billions in revenue & thousands of jobs down the drain, but hey, the fishing will be good!
5/16/2012 1:48:44 PM
unionbay880 says:
I'm confused, did he just hear about this "ring of fire"? Why did he not oppose it before?

As far as the first nation support for this project. Who has to agree with it? Every first nations person in Canada? Every first nations person in Ontario? Just the chiefs?
This project is going nowhere fast and it seems there will constantly be someone popping into the limelight looking for their 15min. at every announcement.
5/16/2012 3:04:59 PM
molly says:
I dont think we want Mr. Moonias to die and surely that may be a bit dramatic. He does have to realise that his community is dying already. There are very little economic activities left except mining. This is perhaps the only chance to save his community from extinction.
The facts are the traditional way of life has been mainly abandoned with the youth choosing an urban life.
There is no hunting or fishing done in a manner any different from the Non Native community.

Crime and drug use is rampant and mortality rates are higher than the South.

I believe that we are going to see less Government money coming this way . This has been shown by a number of programs directed towards Aboriginals being cancelled . This seems to be the sentiment by all levels of government
I hope that with some economic value added to the North the youth can remain and prosper

I also see the position of Moonias as creating a further divide between Natives and non Natives.
5/16/2012 3:59:58 PM
ibrando says:
The "power" that you refer to is greater under the Constitution Act(1982) than in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which is in Section 1 of the Act. I definately do not want to see First Nations taken advantage of but EVERYBODY has to come to the table and act in good faith throughout the consultation process.
5/16/2012 4:16:03 PM
metisman says:
Concerned....your comments are ignorant of the facts. Are you kidding me? The residential schools saved the lives of those taken from their own people?? Are you wearing rose coloured glasses?

Residential schools are responsible for the deaths of over 50,000 students as well as thousands more that went missing and were never found. Thats just a small bit of info...we could spend all day discussing how they forced aboriginal people that lived outside white society into schools where they were severely punished for speaking their own languages or following their own spiritual practices ( often seen as pagan or devil worship).You need to educate yourself before making these statements.
Ibrando - the duty to consult is triggered for proponents, whether they are government or private sector when it involves Crown Land that aboriginal people utilize for traditional, cultural or harvesting purposes. If they were gonna dig a hole in your back yard,I am pretty sure that you would want a say
5/16/2012 5:54:29 PM
wayne says:
forgot to add the following statement which immediately preceded the quote from their web site:

"Neskantaga First Nation is a pro-development community."
5/16/2012 8:27:29 PM
wayne says:
[johnny cash]

"I fell into a burning ring of fire. I went down, down, down and the flames went higher. And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire. The ring of fire."
5/16/2012 8:48:41 PM
Tom Sanderson says:
Chief Moonias complains about a environmental project that will scar the land forever and he's a bad man. A hundred people whine about some windmills on a hill and it's ok. The windmills can be dismantled. Try filling in an Open Pit mine.
5/16/2012 11:29:29 PM
Tiredofit says:
I just obtained the mineral rights to the land now know as Mountianview Cemetary, you won't mind if I dig up your family do you? It's for a good cause, and we'll make millions in the process, it's a win-win.

Now, can you imagine if that really happened? It's really no different when you look at it. How many of you would be standing at the gates will to protect your loved ones remains?

5/17/2012 7:04:07 AM
Ibrando says:
@ Metisman
The crown has a LEGAL duty to consult. Private industry does not but perhaps a MORAL duty to consult may exist. As far as you digging a hole in my back yard we could talk about it since I OWN the property. If you are referring to the 50 hectares of Crown land behind my property, well I guess I wouldn't have as much say in that now, would I?
5/17/2012 9:10:03 AM
Arch Stanton says:
Quote: "Try filling in an Open Pit mine."

Actually, I have done several...

5/17/2012 10:26:35 AM
metisman says:
@Ibrando-"The Supreme Court of Canada has reiterated that governments in Canada have a duty to consult with aboriginal groups when making decisions which may adversely impact lands and resources subject to aboriginal claims".
What this means in laymans terms is that if the Federal or Provincial governments make decisions regarding crown land ( ie allowing ring of fire development by Cliffs, etc) then the government must step in and assure that companies like Cliffs have consulted and in some cases accommodated aboriginals for ANY adverse impacts to the land, water, etc.
Referring to your comment about the 50 Hectares behind your you not think they may ask if its ok to put a garbage dump or a nuclear waste dump on that 50 hectacres ? or maybe they should just go ahead and do wouldn't care...right?
5/17/2012 12:39:03 PM
Tiredofit says:
One needs to remember that First Nations definition of consultation is when the party who wants something has to meet with the entire band to discuss this issue. Just ask Horzion Wind about hat lesson. Talking with one or two individuals from the band dose not constitute consultation. The entire band, including those off the reservation have to be consulted as well (or a solid effort needs to be made to contact them).

I've learned a lot about FN politics and processes and can honestly say we should be so lucky to have it like that! They took our system and utilitized it properly (in most cases, and no it's not perfect, but it's better!)
5/17/2012 3:35:20 PM
wayne says:
Tiredofit, you have raised some very thought-provoking points. thank you
5/18/2012 4:25:22 AM
ibrando says:
Although the following is from the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850, maybe we should go back to the actual wording of the treaties. "and further to allow the said chiefs and their tribes the full and free privilege to hunt over the territory now ceded by them, and to fish in the waters thereof as they have heretofore been in the habit of doing, saving and excepting only such portions of the said territory as may from time to time be sold or leased to individuals, or companies of individuals, and occupied by them with the consent of the Provincial Government. Superintendent General of Indian Affairs being first had and obtained; nor will they at any time hinder or prevent persons from exploring or searching for mineral or other valuable productions in any part of the territory hereby ceded to Her Majesty" I realize the ring of fire is not located within the boundaries of this treaty. Just sayin!
5/18/2012 9:13:30 AM
Oka warrior says:
no retreat, no surrender, there are no 2nd chances for clean waters.
5/19/2012 1:42:47 AM
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