Natural resources are the basis of the Canadian economy. The economic shockwaves generated by the recent tumble in commodities prices are a prime example of the depth of this country’s dependence on natural capital. Our long-term prosperity as a country depends on proper management of these resources and of the environmental and social effects of their extraction.
Given the concentration of these resources in Canada’s remote areas, responsible extraction is inextricably linked to responsible Aboriginal relations. Living close to resources, Aboriginal communities often become stewards of impacted lands. As local residents, Aboriginal peoples have a vested interest in maintaining ecosystem services and pursuing a sustainable approach to extraction.
As economic partners, communities and industry can find mutual benefits in a healthy partnership. At best, extractive activities act as catalysts for economic development and diversification of Aboriginal communities. At worst, they destroy landscapes, poison water sources, and harm local residents.
In our inaugural Corporate Knights Aboriginal Relations ranking of extractive industries, we have found that many companies have policies in place to ensure constructive relations, while others maintain a dated frontier mentality. There are a growing number of positive stories, but all companies have room for improvement.
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