Almost twice as many youth attended the PDAC Mining Matters Aboriginal Youth Outreach Summer Camps in Webequie and Marten Falls as were expected.
“We had a total of 104 campers – we were expecting 60,” said Leanne Hall, vice-president of human resources at Noront Resources Ltd, in an e-mail comment. “It was a huge success for everyone.”
Webequie Chief Cornelius Wabasse said the PDAC (Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada) Mining Matters camp provided youth with more knowledge about the mining activities happening in the Ring of Fire area.
“It’s something new — we have never encountered anything like that so that is why we have to find programs that will assist us in learning what mining is all about,” Wabasse said. “The young people have a lot of potential and we just need to tap into their potential.”
Wabasse said his community is very interested in what is happening in the mining industry, and the Elders in particular want the youth to know more about mining.
“They want the young people to start learning about what mining is all about so they are aware of what kinds of impacts it brings,” Wabasse said. “It also prepares them to start thinking about preparation on what they need to do or what kind of education they need to do with the job opportunities that a mining company will bring.”
The weeklong PDAC Mining Matters camps were held in Webequie, beginning Aug. 16, and Marten Falls, beginning Aug. 24, to introduce youth to a wide range of practical geological and mineral exploration activities, including prospecting, claim staking, mapping, GPS (Global Positioning System) technology and environmental geochemistry.
The camps, which also highlighted the array of job opportunities available in the minerals industry, were delivered by PDAC Mining Matters through sponsorship from Noront Resources Ltd., the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.
“Introducing the youth of these First Nation communities to rocks, minerals and geology in a fun, educational camp setting is an honour,” Hall said. “These young people are our future, and there is no time like the present to invest in their learning of our great mining industry.”
Eric Shewaybick’s favourite activity during the Webequie PDAC Mining Matters camp was when the youth split up into four groups to solve a puzzle.
“It taught me how to be a team player and a good leader,” Shewaybick said in a comment sheet.
The PDAC Mining Matters camps include lots of group activities, said Barbara Green Parker, Aboriginal education specialist with PDAC Mining Matters.
“It’s a natural place for them to learn how to work cooperatively and be responsible for their own learning,” Parker said. “We find as the week progresses they become even more engaged in working with each other and taking leadership roles.”
Other youth enjoyed learning about mapping, the different rocks and minerals and the cookie mining activity.
“My favourite activity was the cookie mining because it was fun,” said Shane Troutlake in a comment sheet.
Cookie mining involves mining chocolate chip cookies for the chocolate chips.
“Through the process, they go through the entire mining cycle,” Parker said. “Right from the purchase of the land to mapping of the land, which they do by putting (the cookie) on a piece of graph paper and counting the number of squares it occupies.”
Parker said the youth decide which type of equipment they want to use to mine the cookie, they count the amount of minerals (chocolate chips) mined, and they subtract the cost of their mining activity and the reclamation process from their earnings.
Youth given training in mining field
“The reclamation process is gauged by how aggressive they were with the cookie,” Parker said. “If they broke it apart into many pieces, then of course it would cost more money to put it back together again. They loved this activity, because it really gives them a sense ... of the mining cycle and how it all works.”
Shewaybick was surprised to learn how much income a geologist makes in a day.
“That motivated me to become one as well,” Shewaybick said.
Special attention to the local geology is emphasized in the Mining Matters Camp programming, as is raising the campers’ awareness of the minerals industry and its importance in everyday life.
“They are very quick to pick this information up and you can tell how excited they are to be exploring and discovering the differences between each rock and mineral,” Parker said. “We use a variety of minerals, everything from amethyst to gypsum, calcopyrite, pegmatite, magnatite, quartz. These are very interesting and exciting minerals for them to learn about and of course they are very useful for us every day.”
The students are also taught about the abundant natural resources in the north with an emphasis on the environment, new technology and sustainable development.
“PDAC Mining Matters is committed to building on existing education and training initiatives as well as developing new programs to engage Aboriginal youth and develop an interest in the minerals industry,” said Patricia Dillon, president of PDAC Mining Matters. “We understand that building new, and strengthening existing partnerships with First Nations, industry and educational partners is critical to designing and delivering effective programs.”
Wabasse would welcome the PDAC Mining Matters camp back to his community again next year.
“The young people are very interested in the program,” Wabasse said. “It would be beneficial that the Mining Matters would continue to offer the program in our community so we can better understand the mining industry in this region.”
PDAC Mining Matters is an organization dedicated to mineral resource education.
Well, our short summer up here in Northern Ontario is beginning to fade. Summer is so precious to all of us in the north and this year we started very late...