To recognize the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – a day that honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities North Coal sponsored and participated in a community gathering at Yaq̓it ʔa·knukⱡiʔit (Tobacco Plains) where approximately 50 community members gathered and shared a meal as we listened to the words of Residential School Survivors and current leadership on the past, present and future of reconciliation. North Coal looks forward to continuing to work with Yaq̓it ʔa·knukⱡiʔit and other Indigenous communities to build and maintain respectful relationships and support Aboriginal peoples’ cultural revitalization and integrating Indigenous knowledge systems, oral histories, laws, protocols, and connections to the land as it relates to the Michel Coal Project as per the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s Principles of Reconciliation.
As we further reflect on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation we remind ourselves of the 94 Calls to Action produced by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada and review North Coal’s corporate actions to ensure they reflect the spirit of Reconciliation. We look to the TRC Calls to Action and specifically Call to Action #92 as a guide to how North Coal conducts business with Indigenous peoples:
We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not limited to, the following:
- Committing to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with the Michel Coal Project.
North Coal made the conscious decision to engage and consult with the Ktunaxa Nation Council to start the relationship building process early, beginning with Project Inception in 2013. North Coal is committed to creating consultation processes that support meaningful engagement with the Ktunaxa Nation and any other potentially affected Indigenous group within the Project Area. North Coal’s overarching goal is to build trusting, sustainable, transparent, and respectful relationships with Indigenous groups that may be affected by the Project. This goal is built on the basis of respect, listening, inclusion and meaningful participation.
North Coal does not view consultation with the Ktunaxa Nation and other Indigenous groups as a “means to an end”, meaning that North Coal does not see consultation as simply a requirement prescribed by either the provincial or federal governments. Rather, North Coal sees consultation as a process to build a sustainable long-term relationship with the Ktunaxa Government and the individual communities that comprise the Ktunaxa Nation as well as other Indigenous groups potentially affected by the Project. North Coal looks forward to continued collaboration with Indigenous groups in the aim of building respectful relationships and ultimately obtaining the free, prior and informed consent for the Michel Coal Project from potentially affected Indigenous groups.
- Ensuring that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
North Coal remains committed to working with the Ktunaxa to support their vision of strong, healthy citizens and communities and self-sufficiency through Education, Employment and Training. Through its consultation and engagement activities, North Coal understands that this is a priority for other Indigenous groups potentially affected by the Michel Coal Project as well. As such, North Coal will work with all Indigenous groups to achieve the following Education, Employment, and Training goals as it relates to the Michel Coal Project as articulated by the Ktunaxa Education and Employment Sector:
- That Ktunaxa [and other Indigenous] citizens should enjoy a standard of living comparable to that of the non-Indigenous population living in the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa.
- That Ktunaxa [and other Indigenous] citizens have access to all employment opportunities within the mining operation (i.e., administration, environmental, haul truck operators, etc.).
- That Ktunaxa [and other Indigenous] citizens are committed to living and working in Ktunaxa traditional territory with prosperous local jobs.
- That there should be employment that contributes positively to quality of life; jobs need to fulfill personal growth, be economically valuable, and also culturally appropriate.
- That there should be increased Ktunaxa [and other Indigenous] citizens participation in the employment and economic aspects of development within Ktunaxa traditional territory, including:
- Maximizing the engagement of the comparatively young Ktunaxa [and other Indigenous youth] demographic in North Coal’s workforce and succession planning.
- Increasing Ktunaxa [and other Indigenous] engagement in both direct and indirect North Coal employment.
- That foster and promote youth engagement and education through education and employment pathways.
North Coal looks forward to continuing discussions with the Ktunaxa Nation Council, Ktunaxa Education and Employment sector, as well as other Indigenous groups as to how best to achieve the above goals to ensure Indigenous groups have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the Michel Coal Project, and that Indigenous communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from the Project.
- Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
North Coal is actively working with the Ktunaxa Nation Council, Ktunaxa Traditional Knowledge and Language sector, and internal Indigenous employees to identify and implement appropriate tactics and strategies to educate North Coal staff and contractors on the history of the Ktunaxa, the location of the Project within Ktunaxa Traditional Territory and the legacies and impacts of colonialism and the Residential School System. North Coal acknowledges that it still has much to learn from Indigenous communities on the impacts of colonialism and the Residential School system, below you will find a quote provided by Robert Williams, a North Coal staff member and Residential School Survivor on the healing that still needs to take place.
“Fact and Understanding is another way to look at Truth and Reconciliation. A fact is First People of “Canada” have lost Traditional Knowledge and Language because of a colonial system that was forced upon them (Royal Proclamation, Indian Act, Residential School, and the 60’s scoop processes). With facts and understanding coming forward, our people are working to heal on the land the way my Ancestors have done for millennium.”
North Coal recognizes that this is only the first step towards education on Ktunaxa culture and looks forward to continuing to work with the Ktunaxa to identify culturally appropriate actions to educate staff and contractors on Ktunaxa culture, language, history, and the impacts of colonialism and Residential School System.