TORONTO — The David Suzuki Foundation has told the Ontario government it supports First Nations’ requests for a moratorium on mining exploration permits in the Ring of Fire. The Neskantaga and Nibinamik First Nations have asked the provincial government to enact an immediate moratorium on mining exploration permits in the region — the biodiversity-rich boreal forest and Hudson’s Bay Lowlands, more than 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

The David Suzuki Foundation is working with the communities to help strengthen their capacity to engage in present and future policy, planning and land use decision-making processes, based on the shared objective of maintaining healthy landscapes that support traditional ways of life and provision of ecological services.

In September, Neskantaga and Nibinamik were two of nine Matawa communities calling for a moratorium on granting future and pending permits until First Nations and the Ontario government develop a regional protocol to address the issue, as they believe adequate consultations are not taking place.

“We agree that proceeding with development decisions while negotiations are under way is counterproductive,” said Rachel Plotkin, Ontario science projects manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. “The David Suzuki Foundation strongly believes that before mineral exploration begins, sufficient investments must be made in the social capital of the affected communities, such as investments in community services, so they can successfully engage in government-to-government decision-making processes.”

Neskantaga declared a state of emergency last year in light of alarmingly high rates of suicides and suicide attempts in the remote northern community. A Day of Action for the community, in which the David Suzuki Foundation participated, was held in Toronto this spring as the crisis continued.

The community continues to advance initiatives to heal from the traumas of colonialism, forced relocation and residential schools and to seek a positive path for working with the provincial government.

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For more information, please contact Jode Roberts, 647 456-9752