Award is icing on the cake for Aboriginal mine service company Windigo Catering

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.

Windigo Catering, an Aboriginal business serving Ontario Mining Association member Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine, has found its own recipe for business success. This has been recognized through becoming the sixth recipient of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) Skookum Jim Award. This honour is presented to recognize excellence in service and contributions to the mining industry by Aboriginal enterprises.

The company is owned by five members of the Windigo First Nations Council in northwestern Ontario. Profits are shared among the five Windigo member First Nations – Bearskin Lake, Cat Lake, North Caribou Lake, Sachigo Lake and New Slate Falls. As well as catering, the company provides camp management, commissary, housekeeping, laundry and janitorial services.

Windigo First Nations is a partner in the business-to-business agreement with Goldcorp that has helped nurture a range of employment, skills training, economic development opportunities and environmental protection initiatives. Windigo Catering, which is located in Sioux Lookout, employs 66 people of which 83% are Aboriginal.

Training along with competitive salaries and benefits are provided by the company to employees. The catering company grosses more than $6 million annually and the Windigo First Nation Council also receives monthly revenue sharing cheques from the mine.

“The Musselwhite Agreement embodies cooperation, understanding and mutual respect,” said Frank McKay, President of the Windigo Ventures General Partner Ltd. “We’ve been proud to work closely with Goldcorp on their Musselwhite project since 1998. Our relationship is based on shared values and continues to strengthen as we provide increasing support to a range of mining operations.”

He believes the partnership with Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine has been catalyst for other business growth. “Profits generated through Windigo Catering are financing other aspects of our business, which include Windigo Property and Windigo Distributors,” he added. “We believe winning this award will help us secure new business partnerships with other mineral exploration ventures in Ontario.”

“The professionalism and work ethic of the Windigo Catering staff have contributed significantly to the success of the Musselwhite Mine,” said Gil Lawson, Musselwhite Mine Manager. “I am proud of our long-standing association with the management and staff at Windigo and hope to see our relationship continue well into the future.”

The Skookum Jim Award was launched by the PDAC is 2008. It is designed to recognize Aboriginal achievements in the mineral industry. Recipients have demonstrated contributions to the industry and exceptional performance in an Aboriginal-run mining service, mining or mineral exploration company.

A major OMA economic impact study “Mining: Dynamic and Dependable for Ontario’s Future” shows that for every direct mining job in Ontario twice as many indirect and induced jobs are created. The 66 jobs at Windigo Catering are examples of the supply and service jobs created, which are integral to mining operations.

Windigo First Nation Council is utilizing its agreement with Goldcorp to provide an important service, develop skills, create wealth and be a valuable partner in an Ontario gold mining operation. Goldcorp is a major gold producer with operations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. In 2012, the company turned out about 2.4 million ounces of gold, with about 250,000 ounces coming from Musselwhite.