Rio Tinto enters ‘historic’ partnership with Innu community in Quebec
The Innu community of Ekuanitshit and Rio Tinto Fer et Titane have signed a historic partnership agreement named “Uauitshitun,” which means “mutual support” in the Innu language.
The objective of the agreement is to generate economic opportunities for the Ekuanitshit community and to support the development of Rio Tinto’s mine in the Minganie region of Quebec’s North Shore.
Located 43 km northeast of the town of Havre-Saint-Pierre, Rio Tinto’s Lac Tio open-pit mine extracts titanium dioxide from the world’s largest solid ilmenite deposit. The mine has been operating since 1948.
Currently the mine employs around 250 people and spent over C$8 million with local suppliers in 2018, making a significant contribution to the North Coast’s economy.
Under the agreement, Rio Tinto will support initiatives in four main areas: education and jobs, economic development, the environment and Innu culture.
“This agreement provides a framework for collaboration and the foundation for a long-term partnership between Rio Tinto and the Ekuanitshit community,” Rio Tinto Fer et Titane managing director Guy GaudreaulIt stated in a media release.
He believes the Uauitshitun partnership will bring “significant benefits for the people of Minganie” and support the future of the Lac Tio mine, which plays an important role in the region’s economy.
“We are committed to working together to pursue our development in a responsible and sustainable manner,” GaudreaulIt added.
Rio Tinto and the Ekuanitshit community have been engaged in a formal process of reconciliation and dialogue for nearly 10 years. The Uauitshitun partnership was first discussed and approved by the Council of the Innu of Ekuanitshit before being presented to an assembly of community members, where it was adopted by consensus.
“The signing of the Uauitshitun agreement is a historic moment for the Ekuanitshit community. This agreement is based on the principles of mutual support and respect, while being resolutely forward-looking. In partnership with Rio Tinto, we will leverage our businesses and our skills to ensure the prosperity of our community and future generations,” said Jean-Charles Piétacho, Chief of the Council of the Innu of Ekuanitshit.