RING OF FIRE
(subsequently bought out by Noront), as part of its work-readiness initiative. A strong relationship with the land is one of the ways the Matawa people can heal from these problems, says Achneepineskum, building confidence and strengthening traditional knowledge. That’s why any threat to those cultural connections is especially worrying. “There are still some who have concerns about the impact on the water and the land and livelihoods,” he says.
enjoys nearuniversal fluency in Oji-cree, was named in that language after one of the community’s traditional stories. A man who ventured onto Winisk Lake one day saw a flock of mergansers struggling to take off from the water. The ducks were craning their necks back and forth, and appeared to be looking around for any sign of a breeze to help them aloft. then, means “shaking the head from side to side.” As they struggle to find their place in the modern economy without losing their identity, the Matawa communities themselves seem to be scouting the skies for rising winds of opportunity. The Ring of Fire could be just such a thermal updraft, but it carries the uncertainty of massive, irreversible change. In the coming years, they will decide whether, and how, to make that leap into the unknown. “Once the mining is completed, we’re still gonna be there,” says Achneepineskum. “We don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Landscapes ( opposite and above) in the vicinity of the proposed all-weather road, set to connect the Ring of Fire to the south.