TORONTO, March 19 /CNW/ - Jailing community leaders of the
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwig First Nation (KI) is not an outcome to the
dispute between KI and mineral explorer Platinex Inc. that was welcomed by the
Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC).
"It's sad and disappointing," commented PDAC President Jon Baird. "We
hoped that the decision to take recourse with the courts could be avoided. But
we also felt that the judge's original decision was constructive in its
directive to the parties involved to communicate and resolve their
differences. There should have been scope for an amicable, mutually
beneficial, negotiated resolution to the dispute without it escalating into
the present unfortunate outcome."
"Our association is committed to encouraging cooperation and partnerships
between First Nations and mineral exploration companies," noted PDAC Second
Vice President, Glenn Nolan, who is also Chief of the Missanabie Cree First
Nation. To this end, the PDAC recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) with the Assembly of First Nations which made promoting partnerships and
greater understanding a key objective of the two associations. Conflicts
between aboriginal communities and the mining exploration industry are
relatively rare. There are many more examples of good relationships and
partnerships and these are growing in number.
The annual convention of the PDAC, held earlier this month in Toronto,
attracted an estimated 200 aboriginal delegates from across Canada. The
association's awards banquet featured the inaugural presentation of the
Skookum Jim award recognizing achievement by aboriginal people or aboriginal
owned businesses in the mineral industry. A technical session documented
several examples of successful community engagement initiatives by both senior
and junior mining companies, including DeBeers' and Attawapiskat First
Nation's agreement regarding the new Victor diamond mine in northern Ontario.
"We believe that by educating our membership on First Nations' treaty
rights, cultures, traditions and respect for the land, and by publicizing
examples of successful company-community partnerships, disputes such as those
between Platinex and KI will be avoided in the future," added Aboriginal
Affairs Committee Chair Don Bubar. According to Bubar, National Chief Phil
Fontaine put it best in his remarks following the signing of the MOU when he
stated that in northern Canada "First Nations and mineral exploration
companies are natural partners." "We couldn't agree more."
Aboriginal peoples are among the 370,000 Canadians employed by the mining
industry. Recent increases in aboriginal employment have been among the
highest in the mining sector. Based on global demand for minerals, the number
of new mine openings and retirements, the mining industry is expected to need
up to 80,000 new workers within the next decade. The close proximity of
aboriginal communities to exploration and mining projects can lead to
significant employment and economic development opportunities for aboriginal
peoples, including youth.
The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada is a national
association for the Canadian exploration sector, representing companies and
individuals active in the search for and development of mineral deposits. The
association annually hosts the world's largest mineral industry convention.
Its March 2-5, 2008, convention in Toronto attracted over 20,000 attendees
representing more than 100 countries.
For further information:
For further information: Tony Andrews, PDAC Executive Director,
Telephone (416) 362-1969, ext. 222