[Thunder Bay’s] Fort William First Nation prepares for mining opportunities – by Karen McKinley (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – February 26, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

A mining boom is coming to Northwestern Ontario and one First Nation is eager to encourage business ties for everyone in the region.

Fort William First Nation is hosting a mining conference March 25-26 to allow companies, businesses and anyone interested to meet and discuss potential employment they could share with the region. Several mining companies are to attend, as well as speakers and training organizations to encourage people to consider a career in the sector.
The event is free and open to the public.

“We are having this conference because we want to be ahead of the game,” Walter Bannon, Fort William First Nation communication and research officer, said in an interview on Monday. “A study from Lakehead University shows there will be around nine mines operational in Northwestern Ontario in the next five to seven years.”

Bannon said the community and region want to be prepared for eventual business and employment opportunities.
The conference is being presented from the point of view of First Nations, but it is open to all interested in getting involved in the mining industry.

The First Nation has also invited the District Catholic School Board, Confederation College, Lakehead Public Schools and Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School to bring students to the conference. The goal is to show students who may want to find work in mining what courses they need.

The conference is also intended to foster good relations between First Nations and mining companies.
Michael Pelletier, director of economic development for Fort William First Nation, said more companies are reaching out to First Nations when they develop mines on or near traditional lands.

“It’s great because it helps communities find meaningful employment for their residents,” Pelletier said.
“Many companies have said they have a hard time finding qualified people to work at their mines. We can help get people trained and ready that are nearby when the mines are built.

“There’s plenty of wealth and employment to go around for all people living in Northwestern Ontario.’’ Anyone wishing to attend the conference is encouraged to register online at fwfnmining.com.