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The Way Forward - Webequie First Nation

Dec 6, 2023

Chief Cornelius Wabasse is passionate about his community and its future. That future will be largely tied to partnerships that he and his fellow band leaders continue to forge.“I’ve been chief for my community for a number of years, 13 years. I’m grateful that my community is supportive and looking forward to me to do things for the community. I think we have made progress throughout the years in the development of our community.”
2009 was the first year he was Chief, and it was at a time the great staking rush of the Ring of Fire was taking place. The Chief continued by saying we are still working on how we’re going to move forward with the Ring of Fire. Throughout the years Webequie First Nation has established working relationships with the surrounding First Nations, Government and Industry in an effort to realize prosperity for its people in the potential development in their area.
“Webequie is situated in the James Bay Lowlands, inland, so we are close proximity to the potential development of the Ring of Fire. When you say the Ring of Fire, it sounds really, really big. When you look at the picture of those claims, it’s very big, but most of those are just claims around the area. There is only one claim or one area that we have a camp, which is the Wyloo Esker Camp, and we’re working with them on the potential development.”
Chief Wabasse talked about how his community can realize the prosperity of the potential development in their area. He said, “It’s an opportunity for us, it’s an opportunity for the First Nations, the surrounding First Nations, and also for all parties that will be involved in the development of the region.
“But first, we have to come up with or develop protocols to make sure that we address all the issues that we need to make and that they are in line with what everybody is expecting. For Webequie which is a small growing village, we’re going to need to develop more housing lots to expand because of the number of people required. With the partnership that we have with Wyloo we’re hoping to develop a partnership that will enhance our community for enhancing the quality of life in our community and the members.”
The Chief was passionate when he spoke about his community. He said there are many issues that we have to work with, including housing infrastructure, roads and also the airport redevelopment which they are currently working on.
The community has a vision and a mandate that they developed. It’s a Community Comprehensive Plan that they follow and in that plan they have a vision of a three-tier system.
1. The Reservation itself, first 
2. Being the protected area where we want to continue our culture and traditions, second and 
3. Being the mutual area where we open up for mutual agreements to industry and also to other parties that may want to work with Webequie is third.
“So we do have that vision moving forward, and we think or we’re hoping that with the potential of the Ring of Fire, that’s how we’re going to resource that plan. So it’s a lot of work yet that we have to do, and hopefully, once we have that in place and secured, that we start moving forward with the functions of each tier.”
Webequie First Nation sees the Ring of Fire as an opportunity for working together, establishing partnerships, an opportunity for good jobs, education, for enhancement on infrastructure and housing in the near future.
Moving forward the Chief said there are challenges and processes that need to be followed and we really need to understand and work together for the processes or for our community to prosper from this potential opportunity in the Ring of Fire.

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