Recently, I wrote that my website is in a strong position concerning my reporting and has solid sponsorships. Years ago I chose to focus on building my website, to get in a position where I have a handle on creating the content and have it properly funded. I’m there and really excited about the quality of my sponsors and that they have joined the program to help bring my content to the audience that follows my work.
I’m stoked to launch a new service that has been an issue I’ve dealt with throughout my career in the mining industry. As a First Nations mining entrepreneur, I’m seeing changes in the industry and new ones on the horizon concerning how First Nations and the mining sector will work together and I’m ready to throw my hat in the ring to offer my consulting service in this crucial area.
Timing means a lot in business, mining is no different, those that get ahead of their competitors get the best ground, are first in line for funding and best positioned to become big winners. On May 10, 2016, there was a political event at the United Nations, that will lead to the transformation of the Canadian mining sector.
Yet there has been little media coverage and practically none about the impact on mining from publications covering the sector. Which is a main reason I know now is the time to throw my hat in the ring.
When I first started in the mining sector in the early 1990s, as a First Nations person, I was a rare commodity, especially one working on the corporate side as a consultant. There were very few First Nations back then on the corporate side, things have improved out in the field, but not much has changed on the corporate side since I first entered the industry.
Considering the resources, the sector produces in Canada come from First Nations traditional land, it is shocking there is practically zero board representation when it comes to publicly traded mining companies, from juniors to the senior miners.
One of the key reasons that things have improved in the field (I would stress there is a tremendous way still to go) was due to Supreme Court of Canada rulings regarding the mining industry’s legal responsibility to meaningfully consultation.
Over the years prior to the Supreme Court bringing clarity to this issue, I had advised companies that I worked with that had projects in Canada, they have a constitutional responsibility to meaningful consultation with the local First Nations concerning development on their traditional land. This responsibility is clear regardless of whether or not treaties have been signed, throughout Canada.
At the United Nations meeting in May, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett made a long overdue commitment for Canada to enact the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Through Section 35 of its Constitution, Canada has a robust framework for the protection of Indigenous rights,” she said. “By adopting and implementing the declaration, we are excited that we are breathing life into Section 35 and recognizing it as a full box of rights for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.”
This decision has an impact on me personally and professionally.
On a personal level, I was one of the first First Nations person to use the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous as part of my argument in a case I’m fighting with the federal government for my family’s treaty rights. For those that have watched long term legal human rights disputes in Canada, one of the longest has been at Lubicon Lake in Northern Alberta. My last name is recognizable to those following this battle because it is the traditional land of my ancestors and I share my last name with several members of the band leadership.
I’ve studied the constitution, the Royal Proclamation, treaty rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People to fight for the rights of my family and for professional reasons as well. As I mentioned earlier, one of the key events that made an impact on bringing the mining industry up to speed with the constitution was the Supreme Court’s rulings on meaningful consultation.
Before that the standard practice in the mining business was to do as little as possible concerning First Nations issues and deflect everything onto the federal government. Just like meaningful consultation is now mandatory throughout the country, we are seeing things change to a small degree, not quickly enough but still a step in the right direction.
When the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is enacted into law, we will see the industry turned upside down. This is a good thing for the industry, being stuck in the bad old ways does nothing for the reputation of the industry or the bottom line. All it does is slow progress, and I’m seeing way too many First Nations youth taking their lives on reservations and remote communities throughout Canada. It is a national tragedy that can be changed with opportunities and the belief there is hope.
In the summer of 2015, I was working as a Special Advisor to a diamond company, and was up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, for a prospecting visit to the property and for community relationship building. While there, I did a CBC Radio One interview I’m very proud of.
At the time I was in charge of the direction the company took regarding community relationship building with the local Inuit community. In the interview I got to present my vision of what we would be doing, and I spoke about the inherent talents of First Nations youth and how they could thrive in the mining industry.
During the interview, I said that putting indigenous youth on the land is like putting Wayne Gretzky on the ice. They have inherent traditional skills that would make them naturals in the mining industry. When I mention this, I always add that many of the great mines in Canada where found by prospectors and geologists, one of my mentors always reminds me, using old fashioned geology. He then continues to say, “you go on the ground, walk around, and look down!”
The Canadian mining sector needs mines and First Nations youth need opportunities that reach far beyond the lowest paying jobs in the industry. First Nations communities should be respected and mining companies only need to follow three simple principals.
Respect, meaningful consultation, and inclusion.
Easy to say, but not so easy to execute on. I’ve been fortunate to have experience in northern communities, where companies I was working with received extensive permits. We used these three principals and that is what it takes.
As a market commentator, I’m always trying to be ahead of the curve, and over the years as an entrepreneur in the mining sector I’ve worked to keep the companies I worked with ahead of the curve.
We have seen some changes over the past couple decades I’ve been in the business and there are more coming. I’m excited about the prospect of working with mining companies and the First Nations in the areas where their projects are located, to build mines and opportunities.
All the best,
Allan Barry Laboucan
P.S. my reports are for information purposes only, before making any investment decisions it is important to do your homework and speak with your financial advisers.
Website Sponsor Messages
My work is made possible through website sponsorship and consulting; I invite you to check out my sponsors.
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