The Ontario government announced it has approved the Terms of Reference designed and submitted by Webequie First Nation and Marten Falls First Nation for an all-season, multi-use road connecting to the proposed Ring of Fire mining development area.

The Northern Road Link will connect the two First Nations communities, and the critical mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire to the Ontario highway network, helping to secure a supply chain for electric vehicle manufacturing in Ontario.

“I want to thank Webequie First Nation and Marten Falls First Nation for leading the Environmental Assessment for this essential road corridor. I value our partnership with these strong leaders who are central to our government’s mandate to develop the Ring of Fire,” said George Pirie, Minister of Mines. “The Ring of Fire has the critical minerals we need to build our manufacturing supply chain, including nickel for electric vehicles and chromite for clean steel. Our government’s investments in innovation and infrastructure are creating jobs across the entire province, including northern and Indigenous communities.”

Ontario has dedicated close to $1 billion to support critical legacy infrastructure in the Ring of Fire area including constructing all‑season roads, investing in high-speed internet, road upgrades and community supports. Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations are co-leading the planning of the Northern Road Link project as part of a historic partnership with the province. The project will connect the Ring of Fire’s critical mineral deposits with manufacturing hubs in the south, paving the way for made-in-Ontario supply chains for batteries and electric vehicles.

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“The Ontario government has approved the Terms of Reference as submitted by Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations which is an important first step in the environmental process that will enable critical transportation infrastructure to be built,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Tomorrow’s clean, green jobs depend on meaningful partnerships we’ve built with First Nations communities and our government looks forward to continuing to work closely with them to unlock this immense potential in the north while ensuring strong environmental protections remain in place.”

“Today’s approval of the Terms of Reference for the Northern Road Link Environmental Assessment is an important step towards unlocking the corridor to prosperity,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Working with Indigenous partners, we have a tremendous opportunity for a corridor that can supply energy and leverage health, economic and social benefits, while unlocking significant economic growth.”

“The Northern Road Link has the potential to become a critical transportation linkage for remote First Nations in Ontario, but these opportunities must also be balanced against the potential environmental and socio-cultural risks associated with building a road,” said Chief Cornelius Wabasse, Webequie First Nation. “Our Indigenous-led approach has been designed to study the project’s potential impacts and effects, as well as alternatives and possible mitigations, and most importantly, to allow First Nations people to make informed decisions about the future development of their traditional lands. This project has the potential to finally bring economic reconciliation for remote First Nations in Ontario, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this planning process with our sister Nation in Marten Falls.”

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Featured image: (Government of Ontario)

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