Since joining Northern Superior Resources in 2002 (formerly Superior Diamonds) as President and CEO, I have applied my strong belief that First Nations must be meaningfully consulted and actively engaged in exploration programs. These exploration programs, after all, take place in the back yards and across the traditional territories of Aboriginal communities where Northern Superior explores.
To respect the traditional land uses of these communities is absolutely essential. We actively strive to prevent disturbances to areas that are sacred to the community or where important community events occur. At the same time, it is also very important for First Nation communities to understand what exploration is all about and the limitations of a junior mining company.
Insufficient consultation can seriously impact an Aboriginal community’s rights, way of life, and culture in a negative and hurtful way. This is a reality the industry is at long last coming to understand. But where work is still required is in ensuring that Aboriginal communities understand the tremendous impact they can have on a junior exploration company.
If the community does not respect nor appreciate the positive intentions of the company as well as their financial reality, expectations become unmanageable and opportunities for progress disappear. Working together in a spirit of mutual respect and mutual benefit is not only the most practical approach to ensuring sustainable resource development, it is now the only way to conduct business successfully in Canada.
Mineral exploration more often than not occurs in remote areas. The expense of executing a remote exploration program can often be managed by working with the local Aboriginal community to find cost savings while simultaneously supporting a local Aboriginal workforce and community services. Employment and training opportunities naturally evolve from such an environment, sparking shared benefits for both the community and the company. Mineral exploration is an aging industry and Aboriginal populations are growing rapidly with a large cohort of youth coming of age.
These two realities are, in my opinion, a perfect fit for one another. The opportunities for Aboriginal youth in the mineral sector are limitless. Empowering young Aboriginal people to engage and support the industry as whole not only provides critical skill development and economic opportunities for Canada’s most marginalized population, it also strengthens the ability for northern and remote regions to attract new investment through mineral exploration and development. Through this approach, entire regional economies benefit.
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