Participation of First Nations vital to success – by Tim Gitzel (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – May 7, 2015)

Tim Gitzel is president and CEO of Cameco Corporation.

Development of Canada’s wealth of resources has potential to deliver many generations of prosperity for Canadians.

We have what the world needs. Over the next decade, an estimated $675 billion in resource development projects are planned across Canada. This is a truly incredible opportunity.

We can attract billions in capital investment and become a trusted, reliable supplier of energy, minerals and other materials for the rapidly growing economies of China, India and other developing nations. These projects would deliver high-quality employment and business opportunities for many thousands of Canadians and strong, sustained revenue for governments.

However, without respectful, mutually beneficial partnerships between industry and Canada’s aboriginal people, none of this will happen.

Almost all of the major resource projects on the horizon have a footprint on aboriginal traditional territory. Aboriginal people must be effectively consulted and engaged in the development of natural resources and must share in the prosperity it brings. Otherwise, the incredible opportunity will be lost.

The stakes are high for all Canadians but particularly for aboriginal people, who are the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian population with nearly half under age 25. Indigenous people are increasingly frustrated with approval processes and project proponents who regard aboriginal interests simply as a risk to be mitigated.

Projects are running aground in court challenges and civil disobedience. The need for alternatives to confrontation and litigation is clear.

This challenge is familiar to Cameco. Our company’s prime assets are the rich uranium deposits of the Athabasca Basin in Northern Saskatchewan. With ore grades up to 100 times the global average for uranium, these deposits are the world’s best.

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