A group of young Canadian leaders recently gleaned public policy ideas for the prestigious Action Canada fellowship program after staging a roundtable with Northern mining experts in Yellowknife.
The six-member team (which includes Fort Smith’s Sarah Daitch, the only Northern fellow), along with 10 other promising individuals from across the nation, will participate in a number of conferences over the 11 months of the program and is required to compose and submit policy reports and recommendations based on an annual theme.
This year’s theme is “applying lessons from Canadian history to the development of public policy for Northern Canada,” and the group’s roundtable went above and beyond requirements for the program.
It was the only group from the fellowship to organize a roundtable in the North.
“Our project will have a much stronger Northern perspective and a Northern voice in it compared to if we hadn’t taken the time to engage all of these key leaders and experts in the North in the area of mining,” Daitch told The Journal.
Daitch’s team is specifically looking into what circumstances are proving ineffective when it comes to the compliance process for mining regulation in the North and how it might be improved.
They met with 16 mining stakeholders on Aug. 27, including a number of MLAs, representatives from the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines and various other government officials, said André Dias, another Action Canada fellow on the team.
“Our goal is to really look at this sector and see if we can improve the situation through regulation for all partners at the table. So to have them all there, get their ideas, see where they align and where they don’t and where some of the gaps may be was absolutely invaluable for us,” Dias said. “We think this will really help us write something that will be much more impactful than what otherwise would have been possible.”
Issues the roundtable touched on included the development of a Heritage Fund in the NWT, the remediation process during mine closure and identifying opportunities for investment in Northern mining.
“There were a couple of things we learned, one being that the government is working on a framework for a Heritage Fund…to provide revenue royalties to future generations,” Daitch said. “They will be proceeding with public consultations and further research on that later in the fall. I found that interesting, as there is a very robust fund of that nature in Norway which provides an example and one also in Alberta that hasn’t worked because of legislation and various other reasons, such as money going to infrastructure and whatnot.”
According to Daitch, the team picked out nine key preliminary findings from the roundtable and plans to hone in on one of those for its final report.
The group is now cruising through the Northwest Passage on an icebreaker for the fellowship’s September conference.
The fellows will deliver their group policy papers and an accompanying communications strategy in Ottawa in February.