Aboriginal Communities and the Mining Industry: Moving Forward in 2009 – by Juan Carlos Reyes

Juan Carlos Reyes is the organizer of the annual Learning Together conference and an aboriginal consultant with Efficiency.ca. He is passionate about human rights and works tirelessly to help improve the lives of Canadian aboriginal people.

What a difference a few months can make! If I had written this article six months ago and attempted to predict the outlook of the mineral resource industry, it probably would have been a much different picture. As we all know, the financials of the minerals industry are on a real roller-coaster ride, and currently it seems to be still coasting downward. This decline tends to make a big difference in the amount and quality of capital available to the start or continuation of new initiatives. This has particular significance for aboriginal groups as this is where we would typically see new negotiations taking place.

On the other hand, not much has changed for aboriginal communities across Canada — poverty levels are still running high, government negligence is still a major concern and education about the industry throughout most communities is nearly nonexistent. Add to this the amount of new information now available regarding the need to consult and accommodate, and the impact of the recent jail terms served by the Chief and council from KI First Nation, and you have a recipe for tough negotiations ahead.

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