Wabun Tribal Council executive director Jason Batise recalls a conversation with a provincial negotiator on a resource revenue sharing model that the former Wynne government planned to carry into the 2018 provincial election.
During a break, the senior bureaucrat took him aside and confided that these talks represented a “crowning achievement” in his professional career. “I’ve been in the public service for 25 years and this is the best thing I’ve ever done,” recalled Batise.
When it goes into effect this fall, the series of agreements between the province and 32 First Nations, including six from Wabun, enables them to receive 40 per cent of the annual mining tax and royalties from existing mines in areas covered by the agreements, 45 per cent from future mines, and 45 per cent of forestry stumpage.
But the deals also represented a signature moment for the chiefs and staff of Wabun who, since the mid-2000s, have accumulated an extensive base of knowledge and understanding of what benefits the mining industry can bring to break the cycle of poverty and dependence in their communities.
The member communities of the Timmins-based Wabun Tribal Council have traditional land that takes in a wide swath of northeastern Ontario, including the prolific gold and base metal mining and exploration camps in Timmins and Kirkland Lake.
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