Indigenous businesses occupy an increasingly important place in the Quebec economy, to the point that a forum was held on Wednesday in Uashat, on the north coast, to examine the issue.
The fourth First Nations Regional Economic Circle brought together 200 participants. We are talking about the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the economy of Quebec and, more particularly, in that of the north coast.
The first workshop, titled “Sustainable Development and Success Story,” brought together leaders from three major North Coast industries who demonstrated their partnership with Innu businesses or communities.
The cases of the Alouette aluminum smelter and iron ore have demonstrated the evolution of relationships between companies and First Nations, which over time have become essential in terms of economic development, particularly with regard to exploitation of natural resources.
ArcelorMittal took advantage of the event to announce that one of its mine shafts located near Fermont will be exploited exclusively by the Innu.
“What caught my attention when I got here was that there were no Innu companies involved in mining. The idea is to create a company and also dedicate a specific pit here that will help them learn mining,” said the president of ArcelorMittal Mining Canada, Mapi Mobowano.
“There is currently an opportunity on the table for the community,” said Ken Rock, director of the Uashat mak Mani-Utenam Economic Development Corporation. “It is the logical continuation of the efforts we have made to gradually integrate the economy. Even today, when we look at the socioeconomic conditions of the communities, they are less advantageous than those of the general population.
“Why couldn’t indigenous communities own a mine? » stated the head of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, repeating the words of Mapi Mobowano. Picard is very positive about strengthening the presence of Indigenous Peoples in the economy.
“Agreements on impacts and benefits have partly ended. People really want to act as true partners and also contribute to their own development. I am extremely confident that we are on the right path. Beyond all that, it is about coexistence,” he added.