SAULT STE. MARIE — "No ferrochrome! This is our home!"
Slogans spilled from the more than two dozen protestors who assembled at both Clergue Park and Bay Street Saturday, in an effort to voice their displeasure with the possibility that Noront Resources Ltd. will build a ferrochrome processing facility in Sault Ste. Marie in the coming years.
The anti-smelter protest follows on the heels of last month’s announcement of the site selection for the ferrochrome facility and a 99-year lease on the property pending a five-year environmental assessment and engagement process.
“It’s a nightmare. This is a nightmare,” said an emotional Dolly, who asked SooToday that her last name not be used for fears that it could hurt her healthcare-related business. “We shouldn’t even have to protest. It should be common sense, and it shouldn’t even be happening to begin with.”
“It’s shaken up the core of Sault Ste. Marie - everybody’s in conflict, the doctors are protesting. The politicians and the mayor don’t hear us. Nobody hears us. And we really want to be heard.”
Clutching signs, citizens gathered around Desire Mitchell as she sang and drummed Anishinaabe Kwe for the women in attendance.
Mitchell says she’s protesting because she wants to ensure the land and water are safe for her three grandchildren.
“All the women are water carriers, and we’re all protectors of the water,” said Mitchell, who moved here from the Yukon more than 20 years ago. “That’s why we’re here today, to make sure that the water’s protected. That’s our duty.”
Another resident says that a ferrochrome processing facility will be the death of Sault Ste. Marie in more ways than one.
“It’s apparent to anyone who understands science that this is a net negative for the environment of this area. It’s going to be a death sentence for so many individuals who live here,” said Sault resident Skip Morrison. “But what people fail to realize is that this is going to be a death sentence for the economy of this area.”
“There’s going to be a net migration of people and businesses away from this area. It’s going to negatively affect any new businesses considering even relocating here. The overall benefits of this are not going to be anywhere near what is being proposed. It’s an overall death sentence for this community.”
The public will receive the opportunity to learn more about Noront’s proposed facility this Wednesday during an introductory open house event.
“Are they going to give us the true answers? I doubt it. I doubt it. It’s just a facade. It’s all a lie,” said Dolly about the upcoming open house. “Everything’s going to be a lie. They’re just going to try and sugarcoat everything, try to convince the people that this is OK.”
The first open house is scheduled for Oct. 23 at the Sault Ste. Marie Delta Waterfront from 3-8 p.m.