Thunder Bay

Indigenous people find employment in Ontario's Ring of Fire

The one company in the Ring of Fire still doing active exploration said it has already made a positive impact on neighbouring Indigenous communities.

Noront Resources has over half of its staff comprised of Indigenous employees

The Noront Resources Esker exploration camp is the only active camp remaining in the Ring of Fire. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

The one company in the Ring of Fire still doing active exploration said it has already made a positive impact on neighbouring Indigenous communities.

Noront Resources has set a target of having over half of its staff comprised of Indigenous employees. So far, the company has met the target.

"Even at an early stage, where we are today in terms of exploration, we want the communities to realize some of those benefits through jobs, through training," said Ryan Weston, the VP of Exploration with Noront Resources. "So that in a longer term scenario, they will ultimately be believers in the benefits, the positive benefits that a mine would create here in the Ring of Fire."

Although the camp itself has few staff at the moment, half of the workforce is comprised of Indigenous workers.

Kevin Jacob is a member of Webequie First Nation, the nearest community to the Ring of Fire's Esker exploration camp.
Kevin Jacob is a labourer at the Esker exploration camp in the Ring of Fire. He is a member of the nearby Webequie First Nation. (CBC Jeff Walters)

Jacob has worked in the area for a handful of years, and even returned to working in the north after stints in more southern parts of the province.

"People, like myself that are from there, will get employment and it's good for the people. It's helped me lots. It puts food on my table."

Jacob said all of his co-workers support the development, but he still has some friends outside of the mining community that are skeptical of the project. He's unsure why some people don't have a positive view on mining in the area, as he feels the Ring of Fire will help develop the north.

Across the north

It's not just people who call a remote community home that stand to benefit from the mining development. 

Barb Wilson, the cook and medic at the Esker exploration camp, hails from the Red Rock First Nation, which is close to Thunder Bay.
Barb Wilson is the cook and medic at the Noront Resources Esker exploration camp in the Ring of Fire. (Jeff Walters CBC)

"I mean, it would be good for the communities. It would be good for jobs, especially jobs you know, that sometimes are very scarce to get."

Noront Resources predicts a mine in the area would create up to 700 jobs.

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