Working With Gwich'in Communities to Develop a Minerals & Mining StrategyTuesday, November 19, 2019 - 11:20am to 11:40am Theatre Two
The October 2018 NWT Economic Symposium, “Northern Strengths, Northern Prosperity“, brought together political leadership of Indigenous governments and organizations, their economic development corporations, and the GNWT. One of the objectives was to more fully inform the dialogue around the NWT’s natural resource base. With the coming closure of NWT’s largest mines, which have been the Territory’s economic powerhouse, and the associated loss of jobs and income, the Premier stressed the need for planning for what comes next.
With the support from GNWT, Gwich’in Tribal Council developed a Mining & Minerals Strategy as a first step to meet this challenge. Indigenizing community outreach was a key to its success. Presenting to the needs and culture of each Gwich’in community was also a consideration. Transparency in the process played a crucial role. The consultancy included one Northerner and others with the appropriate experience and expertise. This approach could serve as a model for other Indigenous land claim groups considering mining and minerals strategy development.
It was unanticipated that the resultant findings would reveal that communities were strongly supportive of mine development and related employment. The possibility of well-paying jobs for Gwich’in participants was welcomed. This was, not unexpectedly, within the context of manageable environmental impact in certain areas and no impact to sacred or special regions.
The GTC Board approved the recommendations contained in the Strategy. The Mine Training Society held an Introduction to Prospecting course in Inuvik in August – the first time in many years that such training has taken place in the region. It has generated some enthusiasm. Aklavik, the community closest to the largest mineral potential, will be the next venue to offer prospecting training. GNWT has committed to supporting the GTC in moving forward the other recommendations contained in the consultants’ findings.