One of the key agencies providing business advice to Aboriginal communities in this region has told the mining industry that working agreements with First Nations are not optional. Such agreements have now become a regular part of the cost and function of doing business on traditional lands.
That was part of the message last week from Shawn Batisse of Timmins. Batisse, who is the executive director at Wabun Tribal Council, was a keynote speaker at the recent Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention held in Toronto. It is the largest mining exploration convention in the world.
Batisse was speaking on the role of the Wabun Council in negotiating joint ventures, agreements and partnerships in the mining industry.
Batisse outlined how Wabun represents five First Nations communities all located within a two-hour drive of Timmins. He mentioned Matachewan, Mattagami, Brunswick House, Chapleau Ojibwe and Flying Post First Nations.
“For those of you that know that part of Ontario, it’s very busy. Still even with the depressed market for minerals, it still quite busy in terms of mineral exploration and there are a number of operating mines in the area,” said Batisse, speaking at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Batisse said he believes this part of Ontario is one of the busiest, if not the busiest mining region in Ontario.
“Our communities are really quite busy in terms of being inundated with resource development,” he said.
Batisse said Wabun currently has more than 50 resource development agreements in place. This includes roughly 40 mining exploration agreements or memorandums-of-understanding. He said resource companies understand they are operating on First Nations territories and agree that the interests of those First Nations must be accommodated.
“Any project that is in the territory, as most of you know, now requires some type of an agreement. You might argue that no, agreements aren’t necessary. And certainly in Ontario MNDM (Ministry of Northern Development and Mines) insists that agreements are not required, but they’re highly recommended,” said Batisse.
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