How can we advance the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the minerals and metals industry?
There needs to be a shift in the way we think about reconciliation. Translating words into actions is an important first step. By involving Indigenous peoples at every stage of resource development, and providing their communities more autonomy over projects, we can move together towards a more equitable future.
There should be programs put in place to help upskill Indigenous peoples who are interested in participating in projects. Companies that are coming into these communities should have to deliver workshops and learning opportunities in order to go ahead with development. I think more awareness needs to happen about the opportunities available but first we have to make sure that these opportunities are a reality.
Preconceived notions can make companies miss the mark. Early dialogue, listening and engagement is crucial in determining the best way forward. Communities should be aware of their options, possible benefits, potential opportunities and potential impacts (positive and negative). Once realistic options are presented, understood and discussed, then they can decide how or if they want to be involved. The government can't assume proximate communities want to even partake in mineral resource development. Focusing on communities wants and values and how these align with development must happen early in the process.
Training is paramount and education is essential. Mineral literacy and resource literacy should be promoted at all levels of education so Indigenous communities are best equipped to fully absorb the sustainable resource potential in their land. Education creates awareness and training creates preparedness. Canada should prioritize highly skilled local workers!