WAHNAPITAE FIRST NATION — This week, over 35 delegates from the Matawa and Mushkegowuk Nations will gather in Wahnapitae First Nation. The delegates are participating in a workshop organized by the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) and Four Rivers, Matawa’s environment office.
The environmental training builds on the Chiefs of Ontario’s 2013 Environmental Assessment toolkit which offers high-level technical staff the opportunity to work with leading industry professionals and enable community experts to learn more about mining and environmental assessment processes. Participants will visit several mining sites in the area, attend workshops focused on negotiating skills and learn more about the job opportunities, training, and environmental considerations central to development in the Ring of Fire region.
“This training is a direct response to the questions and concerns we heard from participants at the last Chiefs of Ontario training session in Constance Lake First Nation,” commented Regional Chief Stan Beardy. “The last training session was a starting point where we learned that people wanted to see on the ground what these mines look like and also to further build their understanding of the implications, both positive and negative, of mining development in their territories.”
Through the land excursions, in-depth group discussions and technical presentations, training participants will build on what they have learned in the first round of training to further enhance their ability to respond to companies seeking to develop minerals on their land.
“We want to ensure community members and staff have the ability to drive development in a way that is in line with their values and addresses their concerns,” said Sarah Cockerton of Matawa’s Four Rivers environment division. “Given that these are the people who will be dealing with the impacts of development it is critical that they have the information and skills they need to be meaningful contributors from the planning stage, through to the operation and closure of any mines in the region.”
This two-year training initiative was made possible through a $116,500 grant in 2013 by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario and Hatch. Hatch’s Global Director for the Environmental Services Group, Corinne Boone said, “We believe it is part of our responsibility to support communities in building their capacity to deal with mining companies and engage in the mining process. Supporting initiatives like this and working with Chiefs of Ontario is one way we can do that.”