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.