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FOCUS ON INDIGENOUS BUSINESS: Waubetek Business Development Corp.

Waubetek Business Development Corp. is a Community Futures Development Corp. that helps Indigenous entrepreneurs access funding and other resources to help start up a business.

Indigenous communities across northeastern Ontario are poised to benefit from the region’s burgeoning mining sector with the groundbreaking new Aboriginal Mining Strategy for North-East Ontario.

Designed to encourage Indigenous participation in the sector, the strategy was launched by the Waubetek Business Development Corp. in 2015, following consultation with the 27 communities operating within organization’s catchment area.

Four key pillars help define the strategy’s objectives: develop Aboriginal mining industry knowledge; build mining industry relations; engage a skilled Aboriginal workforce; and promote Aboriginal business and partnerships.

“The Aboriginal Mining Strategy is there to provide support services to Indigenous businesses that are served within the Waubetek area to ensure they are accessing economic opportunities within the mining area that focus on diverse partnerships and include Indigenous communities,” said Stacey Vincent Cress, Waubetek’s mining project manager.

In March, during the 2019 convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, Waubetek announced the strategy’s first initiative: the Association of Indigenous Mining Suppliers.

By creating a network of Indigenous supply and service businesses, Waubetek aims to facilitate connections between mining companies and non-Indigenous businesses, while also providing guidance and mentorship to new Aboriginal businesses looking to enter the sector.

“The Association of Indigenous Mining Suppliers will support Indigenous businesses that already exist in providing services to their communities, supporting them with the next steps and understanding and awareness of how they can become engaged within the mining sector,” Cress said.

“It’s almost introducing the culture of mining to these businesses and ensuring they feel informed, they feel aware, and they are able to operate within the same requirements as general businesses.”

Next under the strategy, Waubetek will establish the Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Mineral Development, which will serve as a clearinghouse for information on best practices related to the consultation and accommodation process that takes place in advance of resource development.

As mining companies and governments recognize Indigenous businesses and communities as true partners in the mining industry, Cress believes the Aboriginal Mining Strategy for North-East Ontario will become an invaluable resource for anyone working in the sector.

“We owe the drive and the motivation behind the strategy to the First Nation communities that Waubetek provides services to,” he said.

“That they support the initiative, as well as the engagement within the mining industry, will only lead to true inclusion, employment creation and real economic opportunities for the First Nation communities, along with an important voice for sustainable development.”

This advertising feature highlights organizations in Northern Ontario that prioritize relationships with Indigenous partners.