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Waubetek, Laurentian sign agreement for Indigenous mining centre

Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Minerals Development to foster relationships between Indigenous communities and mining companies
Dawn Madahbee Leach, general manager of Waubetek Business Development Corp., and Robert Haché, president of Laurentian University, sign an agreement indicating the two parties' commitment to partnering on the Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Minerals Development. (Supplied photo/Laurentian University)

Waubetek Business Development Corp. and Laurentian University have signed an agreement signalling an intent to cooperate on the Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Minerals Development.

Dawn Madahbee Leach, Waubetek's general manager, and Robert Haché, president at Laurentian, signed the agreement during the 2020 conference of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) in Toronto.

The centre will be a clearinghouse of information on best practices related to consultation with Indigenous peoples in advance of mineral exploration and development.

In November, Waubetek announced that global mining giant Rio Tinto had committed $1 million over five years to the centre.

It’s part of a larger Aboriginal Mining Strategy for North-East Ontario designed to enable more partnerships between Indigenous communities and mining companies.

“The Waubetek Business Development Corporation is pleased to be working alongside Laurentian University to support the building of Indigenous capacity and knowledge in the mineral development industry. 

“The Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Minerals Development will benefit from this key relationship with academia to provide this much-needed clearinghouse of information, research, case studies, leading practices, tools, templates and training primarily for Indigenous Peoples, but also to assist the mining industry and governments,” said Dawn Madahbee Leach, Waubetek’s general manager, in a March 3 news release.

“Waubetek understands that building relationships is important to building understanding.”

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Laurentian said in signing the agreement, the centre would now have “direct lines of communication with some of Laurentian University’s mining-focused departments, particularly MIRARCO, the Goodman School of Mines, and the Harquail School of Earth Sciences.”

It’s also expected the centre’s offices will be situated on Laurentian’s Sudbury campus.

“This is a great fit for the Goodman School of Mines and MIRARCO,” said Jennifer Abols, executive director of the Goodman School of Mines and president and CEO of MIRARCO, in the release.

“I look forward to being involved in ongoing research and education collaboration between Laurentian and Waubetek to support Indigenous minerals development.”

Founded in 1989, Waubetek Business Development Corp. provides business financing and economic development services to First Nations and Indigenous businesses across northeastern Ontario.

The organization has invested $94 million in financing to more than 3,000 Indigenous businesses since its inception.

It is located on the Whitefish River First Nation on the shores of Georgian Bay in Lake Huron.