SAULT STE MARIE – THUNDER BAY – Canadian mining companies and Aboriginal communities have always struggled to develop and maintain relationships that encourage lasting employment opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples in the mining sector. Learning Together Inc. works with Aboriginal communities and mining representatives across Canada to develop a model for building these strong partnerships. Learning Together’s 6th annual Aboriginal mining conference, taking place in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, April 6 – 7, 2011, is one of the best ways to help bridge the gap between communities and industry.
Juan Carlos Reyes, Chief Executive Officer of Learning Together, believes this conference is an important way to ensure Aboriginal communities become meaningful players in the resource development taking place in their lands. “It is vital to work with the industry to build significant relationships between companies and individual communities,” says Reyes. Learning Together has been able to develop a model that incorporates cultural traditions with responsible business practices. The unique two-day conference offers a relaxed environment designed to foster mutual respect and sharing.
This year’s event features workshops and case studies designed for both Aboriginal community representatives and industry representatives. Interactive workshops like “The Wahgoshig First Nation Project,” “The IBA Toolkit” and “An Oral History of Aboriginal People” provide a comfortable environment for communities and companies to learn from one another. The sessions provide living, breathing examples of important issues and best practices for communities and industry, issues that every company working in the Canadian mining industry needs to know. One of our featured case studies, “Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) – Five years later,” is facilitated by John Cutfeet. Mr. Cutfeet was involved in the original court proceedings related to KI and a drilling company operating on their traditional territory, and was one of six community leaders jailed for contempt of court. Mr. Cutfeet recounts the events that led to his imprisonment, and details the conditions and issues now facing his community ten years later. There will also be workshops and case studies that focus on potash and uranium mining, mining agreements, and mining exploration.
This year’s conference features something new to Learning Together: a full-day youth symposium that organizers hope will draw about 50 Aboriginal youth from across Saskatchewan. The event will take place before the main conference, and will teach youth about employment opportunities in the mining industry. Participants will leave with details of the types of jobs available in the mining sector, the level of education and training required, and how to go about getting these jobs. The symposium will include a Youth Ambassador who will provide an update on the event to the general conference the next day.
Based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Learning Together Incorporated believes in the positive economic impact exploration and mining development can bring to Aboriginal communities. Its role is to ensure that all communities across Canada have access to this information from their peers, and to bring communities together to share experiences and best practices. This goal is accomplished mainly through the annual conference, which is made possible this year through support from Cameco (Host Sponsor), Northern Lights Community Development Corporation, Osisko, Cree Mineral Exploration Board and Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. The two-day event costs only $350 for Aboriginal Community Representatives and $495 for corporate and general participants.
If you would like more information about the 6th annual Learning Together conference, or to register, visit www.learning-together.ca or email Jillian Wilson at jillian[at]learning-together.ca