WATERLOO, ON, Nov. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - Strategies to improve relations between aboriginal communities and resource-based companies will be the topic of discussion at an event the University of Waterloo's School of Environment, Enterprise and Development is hosting in Toronto this week, with the Right Honourable Paul Martin and Phil Fontaine among the panelists.
The goal of the event, titled Towards Sustainable Partnerships: Canada's Aboriginal Communities and the Resources Sector, is to identify initiatives to build a more mutually beneficial relationship between Canada's Aboriginal communities and primary industries.
The event will culminate with a summary of key findings and guidance on next steps to help make the recommendations a reality. These initiatives will be mutually agreed upon and should share at least four characteristics: they must be practical, meaningful, cost-effective and timely.
Also participating in the discussion are:
Jim Burpee, president & CEO, Canadian Electricity Association
Daniel Gagnier, chair, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Chris Henderson, president, Lumos Energy & Author, Aboriginal Power
Gord Lambert, executive advisor, sustainability and innovation, Suncor Energy
David McLaughlin, strategic advisor on sustainability to the Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo
Sandra Odendahl, director, corporate sustainability, RBC
Denise Restoule, chief, Dokis First Nation
Martin, Canada's 21st prime minister, and the founder of the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, has made reconciling economic development with the needs of aboriginal communities a priority in his life and career.
"Across our country there are more than $650 billion worth of natural resource projects underway or planned for the next decade, many on or near the traditional lands of the indigenous peoples of Canada. That these will be the subject of extensive negotiation is beyond question," said Martin. "Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that this debate will be on colonial terms. Those days are over and so they should be. Indigenous peoples are not anti-development, but they do want to leave something for the next generation. They call it their traditional values. We have only recently rediscovered those values. We call it being socially responsible. I like their way of looking at it better!"
Phil Fontaine is the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and president of Ishkonigan, which offers consultation and mediation services.
"With ever-increasing resource development in indigenous territories, sustainable development must include sustainable partnerships," said Fontaine. "Success will be a product of co-operation and it is an easy choice for industry to adopt negotiation as the preferred strategy over litigation."
Professor Blair Feltmate, of the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development at Waterloo, and the chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Project Canada, will moderate the event.
"Resource-based companies are missing out on opportunities to engage Aboriginal Peoples to address a Canada-wide shortage of skilled and unskilled labour," said Feltmate. "Conversely, indigenous peoples should recognize their opportunity to shape resource development in Canada in a manner that reflects their unique environmental and cultural views. It should be our goal to find common purpose on both sides of this equation that can benefit current and future generations."
Media are invited to attend the event.
When: Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 7:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: InterContinental Toronto Centre, Ballroom B (lower level). 225 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario.
About the University of Waterloo
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca.
SOURCE: University of Waterloo
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