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 Indigenous participation in the sector. An estimated 490 agreements were signed between mining and exploration companies and Indigenous communities or governments between 2000 and 2019. 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 Indigenous communities. In terms of employment, the mining sector has become, proportionally, the largest private sector employer of Indigenous people in Canada. Given the proximity of many communities to current and potential mining operations, as well as the large number of Indigenous youth, employment in well-paying, skilled mining jobs is poised to increase well into the future.
The mining industry is also supportive of a principled, open and transparent approach to government resource revenue sharing between the Crown and Indigenous communities that are primarily affected by a specific resource project. MAC believes that government resource revenue sharing can provide Indigenous communities with greater opportunities to participate in the mineral exploration and mining industry and could significantly contribute to the elimination of socio-economic disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. Moreover, by enhancing and clarifying Aboriginal benefits, these arrangements can result in increased certainty for commercial access to land and resource development.
Over the years, MAC and its members have worked to advance Indigenous 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 Indigenous social and economic organizations. Indspire—Canada’s largest Indigenous-led charity that is committed to improving educational outcomes for Indigenous 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 Indigenous 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 Indigenous participation in the mining sector, MAC’s Indigenous Relations Committee was formally established in 2013 as a means of fostering continuous progress.