Northern Ontario’s Aboriginal context and Mining
IN THIS SECTION:
Mineral exploration and extraction has historically been a significant source of economic development in northern Ontario. This development has, however, long been associated with significant environmental degradation, alarming boom-bust cycles of economic development, as well as the transformation of traditional northern livelihoods (Viega et al., 2001; Hipwell et al., 2002; NRC, 2003; Chapin et al., 2004; NAHO 2008). Although mineral rents have been used to deliver vital economic benefits to many sparsely populated northern regions of Canada (Keay, 2007; NRC, 2008), many Aboriginal communities continue to suffer from disproportionate exposure to cumulative environmental, economic, and social impacts of mineral development projects (Tollefson and Wipond, 1998; Hipwell et al., 2002; Kapelus, 2002; NAHO, 2009). This is partly due to longstanding political neglect of Aboriginal concerns and further marginalization of at-risk communities through loss of traditional livelihoods and cultures associated with mineral development (Dosman et al., 2002; Downing, 2002; Hipwell et al., 2002).
As the setting for the majority of current mineral development projects, northern Ontario is the venue for a conflict of divergent designs. This section focuses on identifying important mining-related issues among Aboriginal communities in northern Ontario and illustrating key interconnections to mining’s historical legacy, present mineral policy, and corporate practice. The contextual background provided in this section is vital to understanding the broad significance of community relations strategies and actions pursued by mining firms in Ontario.
The following sub-sections describe:
- Socio-cultural issues related to mining in Aboriginal territory
- The evolving role of mining in Ontario
- Ontario’s changing regulatory regime
- The rapidly-changing business climate of community relations; and
- A review of the K.I. vs. Platinex case