Creating a Balance: Aboriginal Businesses, Environment, and Mining


Mr Peter Vanriel

Kitsaki Management was established in 1981 and performs the for-profit economic development activities of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. Kitsaki invests in several sectors including: transportation, road construction, insurance, environmental, hospitality, mining, and agriculture. Kitsaki's focus is on long-term sustainable businesses. One of Kitsaki's companies, Canada North Environmental Services (CanNorth) provides high quality environmental, risk, and heritage services to a diversity of mining clients, including some of the largest mining companies in the world. Established in 1997, CanNorth maximizes Indigenous community involvement in projects, including integrating traditional knowledge, engaging local people in environmental programs, and creating employment and education opportunities. The company also provides specialty skills related to communication and trust building between communities and Indigenous groups, and mining developments. CanNorth has engaged and consulted with communities and Indigenous groups, both nationally and internationally. They design and manage community-based monitoring programs, conduct public consultations, provide education and employment opportunities, and serve in a technical advisory role. Examples of community programs include the AWG (Athabasca Working Group) Environmental Monitoring Program and the EARMP (Eastern Athabasca Regional Monitoring Program). Another specialty of CanNorth is conducting research programs that assess the consumption and safety of traditional foods. These programs involve interviewing community members to gain information on the types, quantities consumed, and locations of harvest of country and wild foods. The results of interviews are used to establish a sampling program whereby traditional foods from the area are collected and chemically analyzed. Research results are disseminated to community members through written reports, oral presentations, and discussions at meetings. CanNorth has completed wild foods studies for mining companies, government agencies, and many Indigenous communities. Selected Indigenous community programs are discussed in further detail.