Fort Albany First Nation 'alarmed' by Northern Road link announcement

A northern Ontario Indigenous community says it’s “alarmed” over the recent announcement of the building of an all-season road which would run from the provincial highway network to the Ring of Fire.

The Ontario government announced Monday an agreement to move forward on the Northern Road Link, in partnership with Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations.

However, Fort Albany First Nation, which is located near the Ring of Fire, stated in a written release Tuesday that it was caught off-guard by the announcement, and only learned about the project through a government media release.

“Fort Albany First Nation has been participating in good faith in the consultations related to the impact and environmental assessment processes for the Marten Falls and Webequie roads,” Fort Albany First Nation Chief Leo Metatawabin said in the statement. “It appears that behind the scenes, Ontario, Marten Falls First Nation, and Webequie First Nation have been making plans that could majorly increase harmful environmental impacts of these projects.”

“This raises serious concerns about free, prior and informed consent, the transparency and integrity of the environmental assessment processes, and whether Ontario is meeting its duty to consult,” Metatawabin stated.

The Northern Road Link would connect two other roads proposed by Marten Falls and Webequie.

Fort Albany says the development would have “major impacts” on its traditional territory.

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