The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.
TIMMINS – Aboriginal communities and their role in the future of the Ring of Fire was the focus of a presentation to business leaders in Timmins Thursday.
Glen Nolan, a former chief of the Missanabie Cree First Nation and vice-president of aboriginal affairs for Noront Resources, was the guest speaker of a luncheon hosted by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.
Noront is a significant player in the Ring of Fire. The company owns 65% of the mining claims within that James Bay lowland region.
With the First Nations in the area holding a great deal of power over the future of the project, Nolan said it is vital that companies like Noront go about handling their relationship with these communities properly.
“It’s not as simple as going into these territories and expecting the communities to open their doors. There has been many years of promises made by governments and by resource companies that have not been fulfilled,” said said Nolan to the chamber members. “Communities are, naturally, not sure that they can trust us. So we have to build that trust,”
Many of these communities are almost entirely isolated and are dealing with extreme levels of poverty, explained Nolan. But they are looking for something that will lift them out of that poverty and free them from dependence on the federal government.
“Ironically, communities that have been left on their own for the most part in the far north now have the largest development opportunity on their doorsteps,” said Nolan. “So how do we get them from where they are now, to where they need to be in the future, so the can control their own destiny?
“It as an opportunity for companies like Noront to really help affect that change.”
Even with the jobs that are expected to be created directly from the mining operations, there is much more that needs to be done to improve lives in the remote reserve communities.
Many of the adults in these communities do not have the skills, or at least do not have the certifications needed for taking advantage opportunities that the mining industry could present them with.
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