Development in the Ring of Fire is years away, but Indigenous communities in Matawa First Nations territory are strategically going about training their people so they’ll be ready for development when it arrives.
Since 2011, Four Rivers, Matawa’s First Nations Environmental Services Group, has provided the tribal council’s nine communities with information and resources to help them make decisions about the management of their natural resources.
“With everything that’s going to be happening, with the Ring of Fire, with mining activity, it’s really important that our First Nations are granted or given the opportunity to be autonomous in their jurisdictions over their lands,” said Beedahbin Desmoulin, Four Rivers’ interim manager of environmental programs.
Training for community members has been varied and responsive to community needs.
In 2014, in collaboration with Confederation College and Noront Resources, Matawa provided training in environmental monitoring through Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment & Training Services (KKETS).
Nine people from the various communities completed the training; some found employment in mining and forestry, while others continue to work in their communities.
Matawa continues to provide training, sending its two GIS technicians out to the individual communities to assist the communities with land-use planning.
Matawa can even train community members in the use of Microsoft programs such as Word and PowerPoint, programs Desmoulin said are “essential to communicating to their members with the news of anything that’s happening.”
“It helps them become more independent that way, as opposed to having to contract those types of services out,” she noted.
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