THUNDER BAY – Business – Wisk Air Helicopters are gearing up for mining opportunities in the Ring of Fire. The company, which has been the sole supplier of helicopter services for the major mining companies in the region has announced that they have expanded with agreements with First Nations in Northwestern Ontario.
Three First Nation communities have signed multi-year agreements with Wisk Air Helicopters. These agreements will enable the First Nations communities to participate in helicopter services within their traditional territories, focusing on the Ring of Fire.
The Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) include Mikawaa (Marten Falls), Eabametoong (Fort Hope), and Webequie First Nations.
“What we see is the relationship has been great. It continues to be, to us, more meaningful by showing mutual respect and the level of commitment shown by the actions of Wisk Air and that’s what we see – this is real,” says Charlie Okeese, Band Councilor in Eabametoong.
The confidential agreements made with each First Nation community state that Wisk Air will foster engagement, respect, and transparency while supplying services to industrial groups working on First Nation land. The agreements provide for joint oversight between Wisk Air and each First Nation for helicopter services in their territory.
“These agreements recognize that the rightful stakeholders and landholders, who are clearly the First Nations, are a vital component to the management and development of all projects in their region,” says Mark Wiskemann, President, Wisk Air.
Wisk Air to provide training
Wisk Air has agreed to provide opportunities for Aboriginal youth including sanctioned forest fire training, sanctioned drill training, as well as helicopter ground training. These skills are transferable provincially and nationally to other helicopter and mining companies.
The MOUs also confirm that the four First Nations support Wisk Air’s “open for business” policy; encouraging mining companies to seek helicopter services through these open-door partnerships in the Ring of Fire.
Wisk Air worked with the communities for a number of years to reach these mutually beneficial agreements. Wisk Air is also pleased to have agreements with the Red Rock Band and Council in the Nipigon area of Lake Superior, and partnership with a joint-venture Innu-owned company in Goose Bay, Labrador – Big Land Aviation Ltd.
“We seek to engage and support these First Nations in order to bring prosperity to their communities,” Wiskemann says. He says he welcomes other First Nations to come to the table.
Background: In terms of mining and exploration services, Wisk Air Helicopters has been working in the Ring of Fire since it was discovered in 2007. They have also been the sole supplier of helicopter services for the major mining companies in the region, as well as many junior companies within the Ring of Fire. The company prides itself on respect, transparency and prosperity for the communities it serves. Wisk Air has been supplying helicopter services to mining and exploration groups in Northwestern Ontario for 32 years.