Photo courtesy of Northwest Community College, T. Reedy
Mining is the largest private sector employer of First Nations in Canada

Aboriginal & Community Relations

Mining and Aboriginal Communities

The mining industry is the largest private sector employer of aboriginal people in Canada.  There are over 600 formal agreements between the industry and First Nations across Canada, and numerous aboriginal-owned suppliers and aboriginal contractors benefit directly from the continued success of the mining industry.  The business relationships forged between First Nations and the industry are expected to grow and prosper along with the industry as we expand our activity in BC.    

There are over 200 distinct First Nation communities in BC, each of whom has a connection to the land.  Decisions around resource use within the traditional territories of these First Nations must, by law, be preceded by meaningful consultation. This adds an additional dimension to an already complex regulatory framework.  The scope and nature of consultation, and the roles of industry, the Crown and First Nations, is a complex issue that all parties must work to address.  

The mining industry recognizes that the reconciliation of Aboriginal and Crown title is a work in progress.  We support continued government-to-government negotiations to resolve long standing conflicts around jurisdiction and ownership, including a commitment to, and the negotiation of, revenue sharing agreements with eligible First Nations early on in the project development process, and long-term Treaties that will provide certainty for all levels of government and stakeholders.

Mining presents great opportunity for economic and community development in every corner of the province.  It takes more than just an ore body and a permit to build a mine.  Outlined below are some of the components that can help make partnerships with First Nations meaningful, and lead to positive economic growth in a province poised to lead the country in rural economic development initiatives in the context of a trend towards urbanization.  

Building Trust

  • Engage early and often with First Nations – recognize that cultivating a meaningful relationship takes time and effort, and that it is important.  Building mutual understanding early in the process, and learning about community goals, values and challenges will strengthen the long term relationship and help identify areas for collaboration.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to transparency; evaluate the necessity of confidentiality clauses in agreements between industry and First Nations.  
  • Recognize that sharing information about strong, collaborative relationships can provide meaningful guidance and learning to other companies and First Nations.
  • Respect each other’s goals and values, and information that is shared.  
  • Acknowledge that some past practices in the resource development sectors, while carried out to the standards of their day, are a part of the legacy we must work hard to overcome as we develop new partnerships.
  • Be publicly accountable by reporting out on our record through Towards Sustainable Mining:

Sharing Benefits & Mitigating Risk

  • Seek the participation of First Nations, and identify investors at the community level to engage the local communities in a wide range of potential opportunities, including ownership, supply businesses, contracting, and services.
  • Look for opportunities to provide training, employment and career progression for aboriginal people in all jobs, including labourers, tradespeople, professionals, managers and executives.
  • Encourage aboriginal people to take up leadership roles within the mining industry.
  • Engage communities in the identification of environmental, social and cultural risks associated with proposed mining projects and the development of strategies to mitigate those risks.
  • Assist First Nations in developing the capacity to engage in meaningful consultation and help remove barriers to their full participation in all aspects of the mining industry.

For more information, please contact MABC Info: mabcinfo@mining.bc.ca

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