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OGS introduces youth to mineral exploration

December 1, 2009
by Norm Tollinsky
In: Exploration with 0 Comments

Employment opportunities on Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) field crews are one way to introduce First Nation youth to the mining industry. Over the years, dozens of First Nation youth have been given the opportunity to work with OGS geologists and post-secondary geoscience students on field mapping projects across Northern Ontario.

The students do traverses through the bush, learn to identify rocks and minerals, make observations about rock outcrops and help out with camp chores.

“There are sometimes misunderstandings about what we do in the bush, so when they see that the work we do has a very light footprint, it takes away some of the misunderstanding,” said Jack Parker, OGS senior manager for Pre-Cambrian Geoscience. “It’s positive because the students go back to their communities and talk about the experiences they had with us.”

Prior to commencing work in the bush, the students are required to participate in a training program. They take a half-day pleasure craft operator course and complete first aid training.

“At the end of the summer, they’re all really glad to have had the experience,” said Parker. “In some cases, it inspires them to go back to school.”

The OGS consults with First Nation community leaders to fill the positions available.

“Some communities like the idea of rotating two students every two weeks to try to give as many young people as possible a chance to work on our crews,” said Parker. “Others prefer to just select a fixed number of students (for the duration of the fieldwork).”

The employment opportunities offered to First Nation youth by the OGS are part of a broader communication process aimed at building relationships with First Nation communities.

“In the course of working together on enhancing communication, usually there are mutual interests about the land that surface,” said Andy Fyon, director of the OGS. “We discuss which of the community interests fall under the Ministry’s mandate and which ones fall under the mandate of other agencies. Then we get into our geological survey interests and longer-term community engagement and relationship building.

“Our aim is to work together in a way that meets both our interests. Where we have field parties in the Far North, we provide the community with options for youth to participate in a mapping project.

“It depends very much on the nature of the project. If it’s an airborne geophysical survey, there are limited options for employment, so we would try to counterbalance that with an enhanced focus on information sharing related to the survey and how the results can be used, whether for economic development or planning purposes.”

A significant amount of fieldwork was carried out north of the 51st parallel as part of the OGS’s Far North Geoscience Initiative from 2005 to 2008. Very little fieldwork was done in the Far North last year, but plans are in the works for mapping and Aboriginal youth employment in the summer of 2010.

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