The mining industry is continuing to build strong, progressive relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada through engagement, collaboration and the development of mutually-beneficial partnerships.
Across the industry, significant progress has been made in the realm of Aboriginal participation in the sector. More than 300 agreements, including Impact and Benefit Agreements, have been negotiated between mining companies and Aboriginal communities since 1974. These agreements have set out such commitments as education, training, jobs, business development and financial payments to help ensure mining projects bring long-lasting benefits to Aboriginal communities. In terms of employment, the mining sector has become, proportionally, the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people in Canada. Given the proximity of many Aboriginal communities to current and potential mining operations, as well as the large number of Aboriginal youth, employment in well-paying, skilled mining jobs is poised to increase well into the future.
Over the years, MAC and its members have worked to advance Aboriginal relations in the sector. In 2009, MAC and the Assembly of First Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance economic development and business opportunities for First Nations from the mining sector.
MAC also supports many other Aboriginal social and economic organizations. Indspire—Canada’s largest Indigenous-led charity that is committed to improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal youth—has been MAC’s charity of choice for many years. Each year, the association donates to Indspire, whose programs have been effective in improving high school graduation rates, and supporting Aboriginal students through post-secondary scholarships and bursaries. MAC is also a large supporter of the Mining Industry Human Resources Council, which offers resources on mining careers and a work readiness program geared to Aboriginal job-seekers.
In recognition that more can and needs to be done to enhance the Aboriginal participation in the mining sector, MAC’s Aboriginal Affairs Committee was formally established in 2013 as a means of fostering continuous progress.