Nuvumiut Development representatives from left to right Lukasi Tukirqi, Johnny Alaku, Lukasi Pilurtuut and Don Cameron with David Kratochvil of BQE Water in the centre.
Earlier this year, we formed a joint venture with Nuvumiut Development, an Inuit company focused on developing employment opportunities for people in the communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq. Situated on the Ungava peninsula, both are Inuit communities located north of the 55th parallel in the Nunavik region of Québec. And both, under Nuvumiut ventures, participate in providing a broad range of mining services at Raglan Mine.
Established to provide water management and treatment services to mining projects in the region such as Raglan Mine, the partnership offers benefits to all those involved. For us, it is access to job seekers who will connect the success of our product of clean water to traditional values and Inuit culture. For Nuvumiut, it is job creation for community members and an opportunity to invest revenue from joint projects into the socio-economic development of their communities. For the mine, involving local communities in water management increases transparency and improves environmental governance. In addition to these benefits, there are also more far-reaching gains.
For Nuvumiut, clean water is essential for preserving the ability to fish for arctic char and trout, something they have done for generations. Losing this ability means losing their heritage as they will not be able to pass down the knowledge and practice to future generations. As a mine water services provider, we have always believed that we have a shared goal with the local communities in which we work to protect the environment and ensure water stays clean throughout the life cycle of projects including post closure long after mining activities have stopped.
The role of local communities and Indigenous groups is important in developing and operating mining projects in a socially acceptable manner. It is those who live nearby mines that are at the greatest risk to mining impacts. Nuvumiut is not against mining, but they don’t want to be bystanders, they want their rights that honour their traditional life and land respected. This partnership allows them to be active participants in managing and cleaning water to protect the aquatic environment and to protect what is most important to them – their land and traditions.
Mining is a significant industry in Canada and it will only grow with the clean energy transition. Inclusion of the Indigenous and their traditional knowledge can help build trust and support for mining projects. In past projects we have worked with local First Nations to incorporate their feedback and knowledge into water management plans while Nuvumiut traditional knowledge of marine mammal migration patterns and the environment were integrated in an arctic char monitoring program and in environmental impact assessments for a mine in Nunavik. This enables mines to operate while doing no harm to the environment or Indigenous way of life.
Our holistic approach to clean water – that of looking at water in its entirety for the full duration of the mining project – is viewed positively by Nuvumiut. This outlook echoes Inuit traditional knowledge and together with seeing first-hand the results of our solutions, there is potential to create interest with community members for careers in clean tech. Any such interest will be supported by the joint venture, including sponsored academic scholarships.
It is truly encouraging to see a growing number of partnerships, consultations and cooperation with Indigenous people in the mining sector. These collaborations support mining to “do better” and achieve better outcomes not only for the industry but for all – a future with greater opportunities, strong environmental protections and healthy communities.
David Kratochvil, PhD, PEng
I would like to thank Willie Keatainak, former President of Nuvumiut and recipient of the 2010 Skookum Jim PDAC Award, and Don Cameron, General Manager of Nuvumiut, for initiating discussions between BQE Water and Nuvumiut. I would also like to thank the current leadership of Nuvumiut for finalizing the partnership agreement and for presenting us with several nice gifts at our first in-person steering committee meeting in Montréal earlier in the year.