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Ryerson CSR Institute Session: The Extractive Sector, First Nations and Corporate Responsibility - A Perspective from the Front Lines

January 17, 2020
12:00 PM EST - 2:00 PM EST
Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, 55 Dundas St. West, Toronto [9th floor, room TRS 3-129]

To view the video recording of this session, click here.

To view the PDF/PPT presentation delivered at this session, click PDF filehere

This talk is co-sponsored by the Ryerson Corporate Social Responsibility Student Association, the Ryerson Commerce and Government Association, and the Ryerson Law and Business Student Association, and is supported by the Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada.

When it comes to extractive sector companies attempting to minimize the negative environmental, social and economic (ESE) impacts, and maximize the positive ESE impacts, there is perhaps no more challenging issue than "making it work" for indigenous communities.  On the one hand, the prospect of an extractive sector industrial operation located on or near indigenous lands raises immediate questions concerning serious negative disruptions to the water, air, land, and all life that depends on it. On the other, large mining projects can bring needed infrastructure to under-served communities, as well as jobs, business opportunities, and revenue.  In the space between the aforementioned "on the one hand" and the "other hand" are challenging concepts such as the constitutional Crown duties to consult and accommodate affected indigenous communities, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and its codification of "free prior and informed consent", the detailed Environmental Impact Assessment project review processes that are the precursors to any resource development project, as well as the negotiation of company-community Impact and Benefit Agreements.  

This complex landscape is increasingly attracting the attention of affected communities, governments, extractive sector companies, and a wide range of lawyers, consultants, non-governmental organizations, and others. Achieving the right ESE-development balance is the elusive goal, with each situation bringing its own distinct challenges and opportunities.

This is the landscape that individuals like speaker Glenn Nolan traverse on a day to day basis -- and in fact, in his case, it is a landscape that is second nature to him (more details below). It is for this reason that Mr. Nolan is particularly well suited to provide his perspectives on the extractive sector, First Nations, and corporate responsibility, and we are honoured to have him as our guest speaker.  

Glenn Nolan (Vice President, Government Affairs, Noront Resources) has spent his career involved in the areas of resource development, indigenous relations and government issues. Mining has been a part of Mr. Nolan's life from his childhood. Mr. Nolan was raised near an operating gold mine in Norther Ontario. After years of intermittent work as a hunter and guide, Mr. Nolan's father made the decision to go to work at a mine: " changed everything for us. My dad finished his career as a miner. He was able to get a trade at the mine, and he had three trades when he finished his working career."   

Glenn and his five brothers all followed their father into the mining industry. Mr. Nolan worked as a geophysical technician, and an independent contractor doing prospecting, line cutting, camp management, claim staking, geophysical surveys, sampling, and more. He then moved into more corporate roles, as the director of a junior mining company, consultant and advisor to companies in Canada and internationally. In 2001, Mr. Nolan was elected Chief of the Missanabie Cree, a northeastern Ontario First Nation, serving as Chief for three consecutive terms. As Chief, he worked with companies as well as the provincial and federal governments to build partnerships and opportunities for his community.   

Mr. Nolan then became President of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) -- the first Indigenous President in the organization's history. Don Bubar, the president and CEO of Avalon Advanced Minerals, credits Mr. Nolan for bringing everyone to the table at the same time: "[Mr. Nolan] had more of an appreciation of the relevance of mining to First Nations and their economic prosperity than many do."  In 2009, Mr. Nolan joined Noront Resources, first as VP Aboriginal Affairs, and now VP of Government Affairs.  

Noront Resources is now working to develop the "Ring of Fire" chromite deposits in Northern Ontario, development which is said could generate between $7.7 and $9.4 billion in GDP, according to a 2015 Ontario Chamber of Commerce estimate.