From person to person, chief to chief, council to council and community to community, there’s a broad range of opinions and perspectives among indigenous people when it comes to mining in and around their communities.
“Mining is such a hot topic in First Nations communities and across Canada, it has long-ranging effects on everybody, whether you live on reserve or off reserve – economic, political, social and environmental,” said Mike Hankard, assistant professor and chair in the department of indigenous studies at the University of Sudbury.
Hankard hopes to touch on those topics with Indigenous Peoples and Mining: Exploring Relations into the Future, a panel discussion at the university’s Canisius Hall on March 1. Panel members include Maurice Switzer, Lorraine Rekmans, Cheryl Recollet, Ugo Lapointe, Dana Sasarean and Denis Lefebvre.
“The idea came to me to put together this panel because it is such a multi-faceted issue and it touches on so many points,” Hankard said. “I live on Serpent River First Nation and I have been there for 15 years now. We live south of Elliot Lake and, of course, the uranium mines, and they’re all decommissioned now and the tailing ponds and everything have been capped and put away up there, but there’s still the lingering damage. All across Canada, these different issues are affecting our water, our air.”
But many First Nations have seen increased economic development opportunities and better-paying jobs due to mining, Hankard said, while many band and tribal councils have entered into resource revenue-sharing agreements.
“I wanted to have a discussion about this issue of First Nations people and mining, because there are so many different points of view,” Hankard said. “There’s no one First Nations point of view when it comes to mining.”
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