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Land use plan, women, and quality of life focus of mining symposium

The 2018 Nunavut Mining Symposium promises to highlight the most topical subjects in the industry today, with emphasis on the Nunavut-wide land use plan, as well as gender, Indigenous and quality of life issues.

photo courtesy Nunavut Mining Symposium
Bernie MacIsaac, left, seen here with Barry MacCallum and Pujjuut Kusugak, members of the Nunavut Mining Symposium Society steering committee in 2017, says the 2018 symposium is going to be exciting.

"It's going to be a good year this year. It's our 21st and we're expecting around 400 delegates," said president of the Nunavut Mining Symposium Society Bernie MacIsaac, adding accommodations were a challenge due to hotel closures this past year.

But that's all sorted and delegates are housed for the event, which takes place from April 9 to 12.

The Hot Topics session, introduced last year, will this year tackle the infamous Nunavut land-use plan, which is still in the making. Last year, the topic was caribou protections.

"This is an opportunity for people to give their views on the land-use plan and hopefully they'll be heard and listened to because I think the territory kind of looks at mining and resource development as an opportunity for job creation, business creation," said MacIsaac, who is also the assistant deputy minister for the Government of Nunavut's Department of Economic Development and Transportation.

While he acknowledges that millions of decisions are involved in the Nunavut-wide land-use plan, MacIsaac said people must compromise. The symposium offers a space for that.

"What's important to industry and what's important to communities might be different. It's a pretty daunting task to bring that all together. And if I'm not mistaken, this is probably the largest land-use plan on the planet," said MacIsaac.

The speakers for that session are the director general for Natural Resources and Environment, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Mark Hopkins, director of policy and planning for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Hannah Uniuqsaraq, director of policy and planning for the Nunavut Planning Commission Brian Aglukark, president of the NWT/NU Chamber of Mines Gary Vivian and assistant deputy minister for the GN's Department of Environment Steve Pinksen.

An all-female panel session is devoted to gender diversity in the industry. MacIsaac says most of Agnico Eagle's truck drivers at its Baker Lake operations are Inuit women.

"I've heard it said that they like women driving their trucks because women tend to take care of their vehicles better than men," he said.

The topic is timely as the federal government has recently proposed to include gender-based analysis in environmental assessments.

"I can see why they would think that way. I would think they would include Indigenous issues in environmental assessment, as well," he said.

A session on Indigenous involvement in mining is also scheduled.

"We're going to have some folks not only from Nunavut but from Greenland there, as well, to help us with that," he noted.

Another panel, among many, will address the new Nunavut government and its mandate.

"It's important for people to know the direction of the government, and the tone. The industry is a global industry and if the government doesn't have the right tone, they're just going to go somewhere else."

Finally, the keynote speaker Ken Coates will speak on making mining work for Nunavummiut.

"It goes with our theme of spreading the resources. How we can parlay these natural resources that we have. We have world-class mineral resources, world-class potential. How do we parlay that into jobs and houses and an improved quality of life."

Check out the schedule.