The Cree Mineral Exploration Board works very closely with the Cree Human Resources Development (CHRD) to develop training and job assistance initiatives for the benefit of the Cree. It is our understanding that the Ministère des Ressources naturelles, de la Faune et des Parcs (MRNFP) will assist the CMEB in approaching mining companies operating in Eeyou Istchee about the possible job opportunities for the Cree. The Board will also be working with local entities involved in training programs in the mineral resources sector and studying ways to establish a training infrastructure for all Cree communities.
The CMEB believes that education in any field must begin at a young age. Knowledge of earth sciences and exploration is important; accordingly, the CMEB gives presentations at schools and is involved in science activities in the different communities. We also participate in prospecting training offered by different Cree organizations in the communities. Our geologist teaches several courses as part of these training programs (general geology, mineralogy and mining techniques).
Academic and Industry Involvement
We are examining ways to develop on-the-job training in collaboration with Quebec universities and with industry. We are considering ways to develop existing programs, such as the ones offered by the Cree Natural Resources Centre (formally known as the Mistissini Geological Centre).
In the Classroom and in the Field
Our chief geologist has conducted training for the Cree Nation of Mistissini, including classroom sessions and field trips. Trainees were given basic training in geology and learned about earth formation, rocks and minerals. They also learned how to recognize mineral deposits and identify minerals, with an emphasis on diamond. Responses to these training initiatives have been positive: many trainees have informed the CMEB that they intend to work as prospectors. The trainees are all scheduled to complete their training in the field as employees for exploration companies operating within Eeyou Istchee.
Geological Mapping and Mineral Exploration Training
In 2004, Eeyou Istchee saw a marked increase of investment in mining exploration, especially in the north and around Opinaca Lake. Total investment, not including the diamond projects, exceeded $50 million.
In response to this mining boom in the James Bay region, the CMEB has developed an Exploration Training Program. Its goal is to encourage and support Crees seeking to become more actively involved in mineral exploration activities in Eeyou Istchee.
Topics covered in the Exploration Training Program include:
- Rock and mineral identification
- Environment explorations strategies
- Mapping techniques
- Prospecting strategies
- Use of geophysical surveys
- Orienteering with topographic maps
- Planning of traverses
- Trenching of interesting outcrops
- Rock, soil and stream sampling
- Channel sampling
The CMEB strongly believes that exploration and use of mineral resources is, and will continue to be, extremely important for the economic development of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee. Accordingly, we must ensure that we provide the mechanisms and support to build a skilled Cree workforce to meet the demands of this important and growing industry.