12/11/2014 06:00 EST | Updated 02/10/2015 05:59 EST

NewGold deal scuttled by environmental concerns at Big Grassy First Nation

A small group of community members at Big Grassy First Nation prevented their leaders from signing a deal last week with NewGold, the company planning to build a gold mine near Lake of the Woods.

The proposed Rainy River gold mine is located about 65 kilometres northwest of Fort Frances.

Tanis Tom, a 32-year-old Big Grassy resident, said the meeting to sign an impact/benefit agreement with NewGold last Friday was quickly changed to an "information session" once Tom and a few others showed up and started asking questions.

"I think they fooled people that there are going to be safeguards everywhere and nothing is going to get ruined, it's just going to be one big, pretty area when it's done, which is very untrue," Tom said. "And we just want to gather the information to show people that's not how it actually is."

The general manager of the project said, after years of working together, the company had hoped to sign a deal last Friday but said that was postponed.

"If there are questions, we want to answer them," Grant Goddard said. "When we move forward we want to make sure both sides are really comfortable."

'Doing it for my kids'

Tom said she is not comfortable with the proximity of the mine site to Lake of the Woods. She's worried it could contaminate the water and food supply.

"I'm doing it for my kids," she said of her push for answers about the environmental impact of the mine. "I have four kids, and I want them to grow up how I did, off the land and they're not going to be able to do that [if the mine goes ahead as planned]".

Tom said deer, moose and fish remain staples of her family's diet.

"We are not against economic development or job creation, we just want a sustainable future," she said. "There are more environmentally safe projects that we can do that would create jobs."

NewGold has already signed agreements with  Rainy River First Nations, Naicatchewenin First Nation and the Metis Nation of Ontario.