Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha says Premier Doug Ford’s failure to acknowledge the traditional territory of Pic Mobert First Nation at a recent mine opening indicates the premier doesn’t understand what it takes to build a trusting relationship with Indigenous communities.
During the opening of Harte Gold's Sugar Zone mine in White River, neither Doug Ford nor Greg Rickford, the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Indigenous Affairs, acknowledged the traditional First Nation territory.
“Let’s be clear, the only thing this government did was cut a ribbon there,” Mantha said.
The MPP said that by not acknowledging the traditional territory or offering their respect, Ford and Rickford missed an opportunity to begin building a working relationship with its Indigenous partners.
Mantha, the NDP’s critic for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, said there’s no doubt both the provincial and national economies will benefit once mining can begin in the Ring of Fire, a massive chromite deposit located in the remote muskegs of northwestern Ontario. Chromite is used in the manufacturing of stainless steel, and is a relatively rare commodity, making it highly valuable.
Mantha said he is concerned that “nothing can be done unless the ground work is laid and we establish good relationships with First Nations in Ontario.” And that lack of understanding will delay the process to open the Ring of Fire chromite deposit to mineral development, Mantha said.
Mantha said municipalities, mining companies and Indigenous communities “are at the table,” but Doug Ford has made no effort to co-operate.
Mantha said First Nations should be included in the planning and development of ongoing projects, and Indigenous communities need to be an acting partner in mining and development so their members can benefit from the work done in their areas.