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Working together critical for future of mining, says MPP

Niiwin General Partnership recognized during mining show's Indigenous Forum
Matachewan First Nation Chief Alex 'Sonny' Batisse and Mattagami First Nation Chief Jennifer Constant address the Indigenous Forum at the Canadian Mining Expo.

A week before hundreds of people rolled into town for a massive mining expo, Calvin Goerk got an unexpected call.

Niiwin General Partnership, where he works as the general manager, was selected as one of the businesses to be recognized at the Canadian Mining Expo gala in Timmins.

“It’s nice to be recognized for being a First Nation business and being able to give back to our communities, and provide employment,” said Goerk, who was also participating in the Indigenous forum.

The forum shining a spotlight on successful partnerships and how people can partner with First Nation businesses took over the McIntyre Community Building ballroom on the first day of the expo being held June 5-6.

RELATED: Record-breaking crowd kicks off huge mining expo in Timmins

Niiwin GP Inc. works with mining companies on reclamation, infrastructure work like dams, and project and construction management. It’s been working closely with Newmont Porcupine under a resource development agreement.

It is fully Indigenous-owned, with Flying Post First Nation, Matachewan First Nation, Mattagami First Nation, and Apitipi Anicinapek Nation each owning a 25 per cent share. For staffing, 52 per cent is Indigenous.

Having a seat at the table is important for Indigenous-owned and led businesses.

“I think it’s finally time now that industry and just the general public sees our presence in our territory with our resources represented so they put a face on whose territory they’re operating and enjoying their livelihoods on,” said Mattagami First Nation Chief Jennifer Constant.

“It’s an opportunity for us to showcase the great work that we’ve done in a very short amount of time and championing success for our communities."

Timmins MPP and Minister of Mines George Pirie agreed that working together is critical to the future of mining in the region.

“Done correctly, you end up with willing business partners, and you see that with Canada Nickel and TTN (Taykwa Tagamou Nation), and Côté Lake Gold with Mattagami First Nation and Flying Post, and that’s what you want,” he said.

Wabun Tribal Council, which represents six First Nations in the area, hosted the Indigenous forum.

“We felt it was important to highlight the businesses in our First Nations and in the Wabun territory that are actually working in the mining industry and with our partners,” said Darlene Lafontaine, financial director for Wabun Tribal Council, which hosted the session. “It’s a chance to talk about what is working well, what we need to do moving forward.”

People working together as true partners has been essential, said Wabun Tribal Council mineral development advisor Charley Goheen.

“We’re looking at the past, and how things were done, and how they’re being done now, and how that gap is being bridged,” she said.

— TimminsToday