Meet Aida Puxley, Inuit Recruitment Counsellor at Raglan Mine in Canada.
The nature of mining means that many operations are located in remote parts of the world, away from big cities. In some of these areas, Indigenous peoples have occupied the land for thousands of years.
We have a duty not only to minimise disruption for communities where we operate, but to provide them with opportunities, listen to their challenges and aspirations, engage them in decision-making and work with them to create a stronger community.
Raglan Mine is striving to achieve just that. Located between the Inuit communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq in northern Quebec, the operation signed The Raglan Agreement in 1995. The agreement was between the then Société Minière Raglan du Québec ltée (now called Raglan Mine) and five Inuit partners, namely the Makivik Corporation, the two neighboring Inuit communities Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq, supported by their respective landholding corporation (Qaqqalik LHC and Nunaturlik LHC). This enshrined comprehensive socio-economic impacts and benefits with local stakeholders.
The Agreement, considered the first true Impact and Benefit Agreement (IBA) mining contract between a mining company and Indigenous populations, has been used as a reference point for other aboriginal agreements in the mining industry, and is still evolving today.
Aida Puxley works in Raglan Mine's Tamatumani programme, part of the Raglan Agreement. Its aim is to fulfil the IBA's promise to provide training and employment opportunities for the Indigenous community members.
''We work closely with Human Resources,'' she explains. As an Inuit Recruitment Counsellor, Aida assists with hiring and provides support to Inuit employees to help with their integration into an industrial workplace. She also assists with intercultural training for Inuit employees and their supervisors, to help with mutual cultural understanding.
Born and raised in Salluit, a community of around 1,600 people, Aida knows first-hand the positive impact Raglan Mine has had in the local region.
"Since I was young, we've been going ice fishing at the Pangaligiaq lake between Raglan and Deception Bay."
Despite the relative proximity between Salluit and the Raglan Mine site, there is still a 115 kilometre distance between the two.
Employees of Raglan Mine must fly in and out on a shift pattern basis, which means leaving their families for weeks at a time.
For Inuit, gaining employment can be a challenge in itself. A key tenet of the Tamatumani programme is to address one of the fundamental obstacles for Inuit seeking employment: access to learning.
"One of the biggest challenges our community faces is a lack of education. The mine creates a lot of job opportunities, but sadly, the Inuit have not had sufficient training or education to fulfil them. This is where Tamatumani can help."
The programme offers training in various fields, with a Transition-to-Work element that aims to provide clear expectations and help integrate and retain Inuit employees. It also includes French or English classes to improve the communications between the workers and their supervisors, especially around safety. Aida explains that even something like a job interview is not a familiar concept for an Inuk.
"Back home in Salluit, everyone knows one another. There's no need for interviews."
These kinds of considerations are what Tamatumani has worked hard on over the years, in order to lessen the cultural barriers for Indigenous employees. .
"We provide apprenticeships so Inuit can start from scratch. No experience in mining? No problem! Inuit can train to become miners, heavy equipment operators, mechanics and more."
"We allow Inuit to take non-paid leave for traditional activities, like hunting and fishing, which are really important for the community."
"We also have a traditional kitchen on-site, where Inuit can prepare their own traditional food – things like caribou or seal meat - and feel more at home."
Raglan Mine also launched the Rapid Inuit Development and Employment (RIDE) programme in 2013 to encourage qualified and committed Inuit personnel to achieve higher-level positions, and includes supervision and training. RIDE is intended for both Inuit already employed at Raglan Mine as well as future candidates.
Currently, Inuit make up around 22% of Raglan's workforce. The Raglan Agreement is certainly a success story, but there is always more progress to make.
We ask Aida how Glencore and other businesses can best support Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond.
''Providing culturally appropriate, tailored training and employment opportunities is the key to success. Create a programme to offer Indigenous people better support and integration to grow within your company."
We're proud that Tamatumani – meaning 'second start' in Inuktitut – is leading the way.