Missanabie Cree First Nation
Vice President, Government Affairs
How did you get into the mining industry?
I started as a summer student at Caland Ore in 1976 where I had an opportunity to try out a lot of different jobs—including maintenance (which required me to clean many toilets, day after day).
That experience taught me that working in a mine wasn’t for me, so I tried exploration work. and I loved it. Being in the bush, doing soil sampling, diamond drilling, geophysics and walking traverses offered me the best of all possible worlds. And I got to travel to remote regions of Canada, meet new people, make good money and have fun.
You were Chief of Missanabie Cree First Nation. How did this effect your work?
When I was elected Chief in 2001, I acted as an advisor to other Indigenous communities looking to participate in the mining industry. I helped them gain information to aid in their discussions with exploration and mining companies.
I also helped companies build relationships and engage with communities in a respectful, responsible manner so that everyone could benefit as a project developed.
What is your role at Noront?
I have moved from community relations into the role of Vice President, Government Affairs. While I am still involved in the discussions with communities, I spend most of my time having ongoing and in-depth discussions with all levels of government regarding topics related to our Ring of Fire project.
It is interesting how one’s life work changes through the years. While I continue to work in the industry, I would have never considered that I would be doing this type of work in mining.
How has the industry changed over the years?
Mining has changed significantly since my first day as a summer student at an open pit iron mine. It is now one of the safest industries in Canada with a record for environmental protection that is considered by many to be the best in the world. More importantly, the mining industry is taking the lead in all efforts to engage, consult and partner with Indigenous communities at every stage of project development.
I have been involved in this industry for over 40 years. I am proud to see how it has evolved to become a leader in many areas including social, environmental and health and safety. I truly believe that communities willing to participate in the industry will see the benefits as their members find well-paying jobs, training, business development and ongoing support for a variety of community based programs and activities.