Only 38 pct of aboriginal Canadians have a favourable perception of mining
A Canada-wide survey of Aboriginal Canadians who reside in rural/remote communities commissioned by PR Associates has revealed only 38 percent have a favourable perception of the mining and mineral exploration industry. This is in contrast to positive approval ranging between 76 and 82 percent among Canadians as cited in recent industry studies. The results provide valuable insight mining proponents can use to help gain social license by building positive relationships with Aboriginal communities, addressing concerns and ensuring the communities benefit from proposed projects.
“The survey will provide a benchmark upon which the industry can measure the effectiveness of ongoing engagement with Aboriginal people. Industry should look at this study positively as it is clear the economic and social benefits of responsible mining are resonating with Aboriginal people in Canada. For PR Associates, we are better able to provide our clients with strategic communication which will help build the trusting and transparent relationships necessary for resource development to proceed,” says Robert Simpson, President and CEO of PR Associates, a communication and public relations firm specializing in the natural resource sector.
This is the first-ever national survey conducted among Aboriginal Canadians to measure their perceptions of the mining industry, despite the fact Aboriginal Canadians are critical long-term rights-holders in the mining industry. About 1,200 Aboriginal communities are located within 200 kilometres of approximately 180 producing mines and more than 2,500 active exploration properties, which provides tremendous opportunity for the mining industry and Aboriginal communities to benefit from resource development. Mining is also the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people in Canada and employment is poised to increase.
The results gain elevated importance in light of the June 2014 Tsilquot’in Supreme Court of Canada decision, which affirmed Aboriginal title and placed more emphasis on the need to work with Aboriginal communities to gain acceptance of resource projects in their traditional territory.
Encouragingly, there were also several positive statistics. Aboriginal people under age 35 tend to have a more positive perception than their older counterparts on most attributes. The study also revealed favourable impressions of the industry in several areas, including providing economic benefits, opportunities for Canadians and youth, ensuring employee safety and respecting human rights.
“Although improvements are needed to build trust and gain acceptance with Aboriginal Canadians, the study revealed some positive benchmarks that can be built upon to improve relationships and perceptions. And it’s important to recognize there are many resource development companies succeeding at partnering with First Nations, proving mutually beneficial relationships and project acceptance can be achieved,” said Simpson.
The results were presented at the 2014 Yukon Geoscience Forum. A report detailing the results of the survey Aboriginal Canadians and Their Support for the Mining Industry: The Reality, Challenges and Solutions is available on the PR Associates website at: www.prassociates.com