THE DRIFT: A vested interest in natural resources: Entrepreneurially minded Pic Mobert First Nation takes its place in industrial services – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – March 22, 2019)

For generations, Pic Mobert First Nation’s economic situation was no different than many Indigenous communities across Canada: on the outside looking in at natural resource development.

The northwestern Ontario Ojibwe community of 300 was surrounded by an abundance of valuable minerals and forestry on their traditional territories, but as with most Indigenous communities, they were shut out of employment and ownership opportunities.

White Lake Limited Partnership CEO Norm Jaehrling recalls making that observation 25 years ago when he was working with the community on provincial negotiations over the locations of some hydroelectric dams on their lands.

“The community was in the midst of this various rich, prosperous and busy resource zone with the biggest gold mines in the world down the road (Hemlo) and this large forestry operation (in nearby White River), and the community was effectively shut out of most of it.”

When Domtar closed the sawmill in nearby White River in 2007, it provided an avenue for Pic Mobert to get its foot in the door. Pic Mobert and the Township of White River stepped up and acquired the shuttered mill to keep the physical asset and its forest licence intact.

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