Need for First Nation social services in Ring of Fire may strain Ottawa: memo

Several federal departments already active in northern communities


OTTAWA – The federal government may struggle to keep up with a growing need for mental-health and other social services in First Nations communities located within a massive mineral find in northern Ontario, according to a newly released document.

Senior officials at Health Canada were cautioned last May that their existing social programs to help aboriginal communities in the Ring of Fire may not be sufficient to meet increased demand.

“Though supports are available, it is not clear whether current programming will be sufficient to meet emerging needs,” says a memo to the deputy and associate deputy ministers.

The Neskantaga First Nation declared a state of emergency last April over a spate of suicides—and the officials were warned Ottawa could face heightened pressure to provide similar support services to other communities as the area undergoes further development.

“Other communities located adjacent to the Ring of Fire development may have similar complex needs, and the increased activity in this region may place additional pressure upon the federal government for further action,” the document says.

The Canadian Press obtained the memo under the Access to Information Act.

Several federal departments are working with local First Nations and the Ontario government on community health, social services and skills training. Health Canada has funded projects in nine First Nations communities to try to curb prescription drug abuse. There’s also work underway to address mental-health issues and prevent suicides.

Addressing these social problems is necessary if First Nations are going to be involved in the Ring of Fire project, the document says.

“Physical and mental health are determinants for job and economic readiness,” it says.

“Recognizing the impact that socio-economic challenges have on economic development, the government of Canada has prioritized the building of social infrastructure in these communities as a critical precursor to supporting their participation in the opportunities afforded by the Ring of Fire developments.”

The Ring of Fire, located more than 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont., is a treasure trove of minerals and contains the largest deposit of chromite—a key ingredient in stainless steel—ever discovered in North America.

Both the federal and provincial governments have high hopes for billions of dollars of investment in the Ring of Fire—development they hope will bring prosperity to struggling First Nations and royalties to their own coffers.

Federal and provincial ministers have compared the region to the Alberta oilsands in terms of its potential to produce wealth and development.

No one from Health Canada was immediately available to discuss the memo.


Need for First Nation social services in Ring of Fire may strain Ottawa: memo

  1. Oil pipelines have a pricetag.

    • And there is a chitload of oil in the mineral based Ring of Fire!

    • The article has nothing to do with oil nor pipelines of any sort whatsoever.

      • From the article, “Though supports are available, it is not clear whether current
        programming will be sufficient to meet emerging needs,” says a memo to
        the deputy and associate deputy ministers.

        A memo written by a junior kleptocrat looking for more taxpayer funds to employ more leftist social workers.

    • You really need to stop seeing pipelines everywhere you look. Amazing that the “environmental” movement is now actually against simply taking rocks out of the ground. I very much look forward to hearing about how that damages the environment.

    • Any excuse to justify the parasitical nature of your kind eh?

      • You mean a human being….whose land you’re squatting on?

  2. Sigh. Cons are incapable of connecting dots apparently. Which is why they’ll go whistle for pipeline permission.

    • No pipelines on this one Emilechka, this is FN Indians all alone.

      You must be still working on that big jug of firewater left over from New Year’s Eve.

      • Permission John, permission.

        Either honour the treaties or go whistle.

        • Well on the matter of honouring treaties you need to tell that to the FN.

          • We’ve had enough ‘stupid’ …..honour the contract.

          • The treaties are what they are. They’re not what you and your old mother think they should be.

          • Honour the contract or do without pipelines. Simple as that.

          • There are no pipelines involved.

            Wrong industry.

          • Read the thread, and stop interrupting.

          • Stick to the topic, and stop wandering aimlessly.

            The Ring of Fire is a concentration of mineral ore bodies, none of which products will be transported by pipeline.

          • Ciao, gramps.

          • Usually people say that when they’re leaving.

            You need to pick up the pace and leave.

          • I’m thinking we should stop writing cheques.

          • I’m thinking we should start.

          • Nope, we need to follow these treaties to the letter.

            Annual per capita payments of 4 or 5 bucks whatever it is, and the payment of teacher salaries. Period.

          • Why yes, that would do wonders for the pipelines eh?

            Not to mention railways, transmission lines, water towers….

          • Still obsessed with pipelines?

            If we adhere to the treaties, there are no concerns about any infrastructure, because it’s nothing within the purview of the ‘first nations’ anyway.

        • Emily, it’s my recollection that the historical Indian Treaties and Agreements all read pretty much the same way.

          On that basis I just read the No 9 Treaty again and it looks to me as if the Crown has ownership of and discretion over the entire tract of land covered by the Treaty.

          The only permissions required after the Treaty date relate to the small portion of the acquired tract that was set aside as a “Reserve” for exclusive band use.

          So, can you help me out here and tell me what I’m missing as it relates to your pipelines issue?

          • The crown treated FN as nations….there was the general ‘magna carta’ and then some separate treaties…..although I don’t think BC has ever had a treaty…..

            In short our side made a mess of things….Canadians didn’t understand that they were dealing with separate nations….they were all just ‘indians’….and even the word was a mistake.

            However when the crown dealt with it….that made it nation-to-nation….not just the white man and a few ‘indians’ to be ordered around.

            They owned all the land in Canada…..and we ‘bought’ some from them. They are entitled to huge areas of land as their homelands, plus other goods they wanted. Healthcare, education, clean water……a small price to pay for the second largest country on the planet.

            We have never honoured any of this….we’ve done bits and pieces and often taken it back. We don’t respect them or their cultures….which were hunter/gatherer, agricultural and marine…..and have nothing to do with OUR current industrial age.

            The crown was supposed to ‘look after them’….we, on behalf of that crown have never done so….unless it was something stupid like residential schools.

            This whole thing needs to be straightened out….sit down at a table and work it through with all the FN. And then both of us can live the way we want.

            It should have been done long ago… there are a million Originals….

            If we want to cross their lands with pipelines, permission to dig mines on their land, a mechanism for solving any problems that come up etc….we’d better get busy. FNs have been incredibly patient [I sure wouldn’t have been] and if we don’t start talking to them…..and we get pushy instead….well, you can kiss goodbye to a lot of things….railways, transmission towers, crops, oil fields……

            And before we get the braggarts on here….we cannot either kill or imprision a million people. Genocide is the biggest no go in the world.

          • OK Emily thanks, but let me beg your indulgence just a bit more.

            Is it safe then to assume that the pipeline you’re referring to is the Enbridge proposal from Alberta to the west coast and that there are no pipeline issues with this so-called “Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario?

            That being the case I didn’t realize there was still the possibility of land in British Columbia not covered by treaty and thank you for pointing it out.

            I’m not in favour of selling Canadian oil to Asia and haven’t paid much attention to the issues around the Enbridge project. But, it seemed to me that Enbridge was making a large effort to include the FN in the ownership of the pipeline to the extent that it crossed reserved land and that there is substantial agreement from the FN bands involved?

          • Each case is somewhat different, there being many FN….around 650 I think…so I mean pipelines in general, not a specific one. Or anything else that involves FN land….mining, drilling, running a pipeline through it….

            Companies have indeed tried to make deals on their own with varying amounts of success….but really the feds should be sorting it out nationally and not leaving it to companies to do the job for them.

    • No pipelines involved here, Emily.

      Wrong issue, wrong place, wrong industry.

      • Wrong topic.

        • Then go post to another now that you’ve learned you’re off topic.

  3. Is it the stress of being expected to take advantage of the huge employment prospects that is anticipated to cause increased need for social services intervention?

    People who would rather commit suicide than go to work?

  4. “… they hope will bring prosperity to struggling First Nations…”

    I prefer to hope that development will bring prosperity to the indians, not the ‘first nations’ upon which they live.

    Become educated and obtain a trade and you can work anywhere you wish instead of being stuck in a dead end community.

  5. ‘The Royal Proclamation of 1763, issued by King George III, essentially defined the relationship between the Crown and the native peoples in the new territories in North America acquired by the British — land that would become Canada.

    The document became a guide to all treaty-making since, and its presence is felt in the legal underpinnings of Confederation in 1867 and in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. Some refer to it as the Indian Magna Carta.’

    Make it so, or pipelines won’t go.

    • It doesn’t say any such thing, and in any case the Ring of Fire does not involve pipelines.

        • The Proclamation explicitly reserves to the Crown the right to unilaterally change any provision related to indians.

          Read it yourself:

          It says: “… until our further Pleasure be known…” and later “… Our Royal Will and Pleasure, for the present as aforesaid…”

          • And there’s nothing in it about demanding social services, privileged access to employment, royalties for other people’s efforts, or anything else.

          • Both those simply confirm the inapplicability of the Proclamation as a basis for indian rights, and the second explictly points to the Supreme Court as the inventor of aboriginal title.

            In any case, would you have us invade the US to enforce this? Or what would you ‘make so’?

          • I said Ciao, gramps. Off you go.

          • I thought you were leaving, having lapsed into Italian to say goodbye.

        • Leslie MacKinnon is a brainless knob polisher.

          • Oh well then….attacking the messenger will solve the whole thing, right?

  6. Mental-health and other social services in First Nations communities?You`re going to be busy.

  7. I have no interest in debating anyone on this thread. I make it a habit not to discuss anything with closed minded, angry, self pitying, racists. There is no point. When people choose to see in stereotypes, they don’t WANT to see things any other way. It is a safe outlet for their anger, self pity, and fear. When I read these kind of comments it makes me sad.

    The statement I wish to make is that there are less and less people like you in Canada. I love my country and I want to help it live up to what it could be. Therefore, when I discuss or debate something, I choose people who have open minds. Their ideas may be quite different from mine, but they listen to the views of others and state their own views respectfully. I have learned a lot from people like that. They are interesting people and I enjoy discussing things with them. They are grownups, not schoolyard bullies. They are the Canadians I surround myself with, so I can be proud to be Canadian. So I can have hope for the future.

    I will now, quite happily, close this comment page on my computer.

  8. They are and always have been a child race,incapable of fending for
    themselves in the face of civilization and anyone with a pair of eyes
    and a functional brain should be able to see that.However,that is our
    fault,not theirs.Forcing our ways on these poor simple beings has
    corrupted and destroyed their unique way of life and we ought to leave
    them alone beginning now.First, we need to relieve them of pants,firearms,automobiles
    and any structure with a fixed roof.Next is modern
    medicine,healthcare,welfare,television,and shoes.Anything that improves
    your chances of living beyond 35 must go as well.When all of these
    disruptive influences have been removed only then can they thrive.The natural
    order will reassert itself and the red man will leave the white man in
    the dust……lol