OMA member Osisko builds First Nation knowledge into environmental approval process

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province

Ontario Mining Association member Osisko Mining Corporation is reaching out to incorporate Traditional Knowledge into the Environmental Assessment of its Hammond Reef gold property in Northwestern Ontario. The company recently held an Elders Forum on site.  More than 65 Elders from neighbouring First Nations, company staff and government officials participated.  Nine First Nations communities were represented at the Forum.  

Chiefs and councils of these First Nations made hearing from the Elders about this project a main concern.  Elders, while not always the most senior residents of First Nations communities, are generally respected for their wisdom, patience and understanding.  They value traditional teachings and passing them along to younger generations.   

“The Elders Forum provided us with a unique opportunity to approach the Environmental Assessment process from a Traditional Knowledge perspective,” said Peter Hinz, Mineral Development Consultant with the Ministry of Northern Development Mines and Forestry. “This was an excellent opportunity to facilitate an open exchange of information and perspectives between First Nations, industry and government.”  

A common refrain from the Elders at the Forum was “we must be very careful, we need to always think of the future generations.”  During the day, a meal of pickerel, wild rice and bannock was shared by participants.  A recurring theme from all participants was that the Forum was a respectful exchange of information.  

The First Nations participating in the Elders Forum included Seine River First Nation, Couchiching First Nation, Naicatchewenin First Nation, Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation, Rainy River First Nation, Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, Lac La Croix First Nation and Wabigoon First Nation. 

“Through our early consultations with Aboriginal groups, Osisko has learned the importance of Elders’ opinions in the community and we know that Elders can teach us a lot,” said Mark Bowler, Senior Advisor Sustainable Development for Osisko.  “We look forward to incorporating their knowledge into the design of the Hammond Reef Gold project.”