Respect, transparency keys to First Nation, mining partnerships: Mining players share best practices at Indigenous procurement conference in Sudbury.

Author:Ross, Ian
Position:Indigenous Business - Conference news

Pat Dubreuil was a relative newbie to the consultation process.

Barely a year and half into his job as president of Manitou Gold, Dubreuil prepared for his first meeting with a First Nation community by taking a step back to research the culture and traditions of the people he wanted to develop a business relationship with.

"I need to learn who I'm dealing with, and that's the key," said Dubreuil.

In explaining his gold exploration project to chief and council, Dubreuil embedded the Seven Grandfather Teachings into his PowerPoint presentation, concluding that talk with a ceremonial exchange of tobacco.

His hosts were highly impressed and complimented him afterwards on his respectful approach.

That first official contact set the relationship off on the right foot.

"If you don't educate yourself before you meet with these clients, you can get in big trouble just with perceptions," said Dubreuil.

"Go in well-educated. You're not just educating them, you're educating yourself."

The junior mining company executive took part in an industry panel discussion on advancing - and sometimes repairing--relationships with First Nations at the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce's Procurement Employment Partnerships (PEP) Conference in Sudbury, Jan.22.

There are many examples in Canada's natural resource history of relationships that have gone bad because of misunderstandings in what development can bring, awareness of project timelines and financials, ill-conceived attempts to force agreements, and general mistrust between communities, companies and government.

For Manitou Gold, Dubreuil said it's important that they differentiate themselves from any other junior mining company by devising their own best practices based on honesty and transparency.

On their advanced gold project near Dryden, they gave a First Nation community a year to review their technical documents prior to taking a bulk sample, rather than the government-mandated 45 days.

In the Wawa-Dubreuilville area, they compensated an Indigenous trapper for any loss of income occurring from the exploration activity on his trapline.

With a slew of patented land at their disposal, the company elected to keep all the area First Nations well informed of all their exploration activity, even though they're not required to consult with the group.

"We encourage mining companies not to hide behind the rules," said Dubreuil, "rather pretend there are no rules, and basically deal out of respect."

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