Indigenous Peoples and Mining 1: Indigeneity Concepts and Context

Indigenous Peoples and Mining 1: Indigeneity Concepts and Context

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Areas of Study: Environment and Community

Qualifies for Certification

This course examines the complex idea of indigeneity and surveys several active mining regions in the world to discuss the Indigenous context in those countries.

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Course Summary

Introduction

This course begins by introducing and critically examining the concepts and theories that underpin the idea of indigeneity. It then discusses some of the most active mining regions of the world, providing key contextual information about Indigenous peoples in common-law countries (Canada, United States, Australia) and Latin American countries (Mexico, Peru, Brazil). It also emphasizes Indigenous experiences with colonization, because these experiences frame the way many Indigenous peoples view mining and development activities today.

One of the overarching points we wish to stress at the beginning of this course, and which is reflected throughout, is the incredible diversity of Indigenous peoples—culturally, linguistically, developmentally, and in terms of their aspirations. In some parts of the world, such as the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous peoples might be some of the least advanced civilizations remaining in the world, relying on hunting and gathering to survive and having very little interaction with the outside world. In other parts of the world (such as Canada, the United States, or Australia), Indigenous people actively participate in politics and the community, run businesses, and use modern technology.

Indigenous peoples' aspirations vary, too. In some cases, they may aspire to have legal, political, and social space to continue a way of life that they have developed over thousands of years. In other cases, they may aspire to find a way to balance the retention of their cultural uniqueness while also participating in the modern world. The authors of this course are attuned to this fact, even though a survey of contemporary Indigenous peoples' aspirations is not covered in this course.

One characteristic that all Indigenous peoples share is a deep connection to their history. Although some people might consider the material we survey in this course to be ancient history, these events and stories form the basis of the relationship between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. It's important that anyone who might have interactions with Indigenous peoples (particularly in the context of mining) be aware of this.

Indigenous Peoples and Mining Series Background

The Indigenous Peoples and Mining series was developed to support mining professionals in understanding who Indigenous peoples are, how their rights and interests are recognized in standards and law, and to identify how contemporary mining activities impact Indigenous peoples.

All the world's major mining regions are home to Indigenous peoples. As the Indigenous rights movement has gained momentum, the mining sector increasingly finds itself having to navigate challenging issues that arise as a result of exploration and extractive activities on or near Indigenous lands. Exacerbating such engagements is the remarkable speed of these political changes. When most present-day mining professionals were in school, Indigenous rights were not even on the radar. Indeed, even today—speaking especially from a global perspective—Indigenous issues are inadequately covered within the mining schools. To students and practitioners alike, the course series will be of interest to anyone active in mining today.

Upon completing the course series, participants will come away with an awareness of how contemporary mining activities fit within a long and dynamic story about Indigenous peoples—their existence, historical subjugation, cultural resiliency, and collective effort to gain recognition as distinct peoples with corresponding rights.

Course Content

The course comprises 11 viewing sessions of 30–45 minutes each with supporting figures and examples. Course duration is equivalent to approximately 7 hours of viewing content.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the ideas, concepts, and unique cultural traits that distinguish Indigenous peoples from Non-Indigenous peoples.
  • Discuss the history and effects of colonialism on Indigenous peoples, including how the colonial experience frames contemporary interactions between mining companies and Indigenous communities.

Recommended Background

  • There are no specific pre-requisites for this course.

Amiel Blajchman

Amiel Blajchman is an environment, community development, and risk management professional who has over 17 years' experience helping Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, business, and government manage the environmental and social risks of challenging, high-profile projects. Amiel has been a Canadian mining company executive responsible for environment and Indigenous relations, a senior project manager responsible for federal environmental assessments and crown consultations, and has acted as the senior advisor to Deputy Ministers as part of the Canadian government's Sector Sustainability Tables initiative. Mr. Blajchman has particular expertise in providing junior and mid-size mining companies with strategic environmental approvals and community engagement advice.

Amiel is currently a board member of Ve'ahavta: Jewish Humanitarian Response. He has served as a board member with Etobicoke's Breakaway Addiction Services, Ottawa's StreetSmarts, and the Laidlaw Foundation's Youth Engagement Program. He has worked with community groups in the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. He has also worked with the Bangladeshi, Indian, and Canadian governments on sustainable development-related projects. Amiel has also been involved in developing domestic emission trading regulations and greenhouse gas (GHG) offset systems, in addition to being a member of a National Greenhouse Gas Certification group. Amiel has experience working in over 9 countries including Canada, the USA, Dominican Republic, Djibouti, Ecuador, and the Philippines. He is fluently bilingual in French and English.

Amiel is a verified auditor for the Mining Association of Canada's Towards Sustainable Mining initiative; has certification in negotiation & mediation, advanced dispute resolution, and conflict analysis; holds a Master's in Environmental Studies focusing on sustainability in the mining industry, and postgraduate diplomas in Business & the Environment, and Latin America and Caribbean Studies.

Corey Dekker

Corey Dekker has worked for the past 10 years advising the Government of Canada on how to mitigate non-technical risk in federal regulatory processes overseeing natural resource development. Corey has worked as a Senior Advisor with multiple federal regulators in Canada, and through those positions has helped shape Canada's approach to integrating socio-economic impact assessment, Indigenous consultation, and Indigenous traditional knowledge into federal regulatory processes involving mining and energy development.

In addition to advising the government on regulatory frameworks and approaches, Corey has worked on dozens of major resource projects (mines, oil/gas, pipelines) and represented Canada in consultation with over 200 Indigenous groups. Corey has also developed and delivered training modules for the public, proponents, and Indigenous groups on the integration of socio-economic and Indigenous traditional knowledge into environmental assessment processes. In 2015, the Government of Canada awarded Corey a Regulatory Excellence Award for his work in this field.

Corey the is founder of the social enterprise GreenSocialLicense.ca, which provides free stakeholder mapping services for renewable energy startups. Corey is a status member of the Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba and holds degrees in Political Science and Government from Simon Fraser University (BA) and the London School of Economics (MSc).