Mining Education Comes to the Sahtu

News Type: 
Blog Entries

April 9, 2016

Students in the Sahtu were the first in the Northwest Territories to benefit from a program aimed at educating young Canadians about mining – and its importance to maintaining quality of life.

The idea came from Frank Pope ITI’s Regional Petroleum Advisor based in Norman Wells.

“We’ve been talking oil and gas in the Sahtu for 30 years,” he says.  “I thought it was time to talk about mining – and the career opportunities that are available for youth in the NWT.”

When Pope learned about the Mining Matters Program, the plan was complete.

Mining Matters is a charitable organization dedicated to bringing knowledge and awareness about Canada’s geology and mineral resources to students, educators and the public. The organization provides current information about rocks, minerals, metals, mining and the diverse career opportunities available in the minerals industry.

In early-April, Pope and Valerie Gordon of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment’s (ITI) Client Service and Community Relations (CSCR) division – both frequent visitors to the communities of Fort Good Hope, Deline, Norman Wells, and Tulita - took the Mining Matters Programs on its first-ever tour of schools in the NWT.  They were welcomed by Chief T’Selehye, Ehtseo Atha, Mackenzie Mountain, and Chief Albert Wright schools.

In each school they would share information and promote discussion about the mineral exploration potential in the Territory and the potential for students to contribute to the future growth and development of their communities by staying in school and considering a career in the minerals/mining sector.

The tour was a huge success. “The recess bell would go and nobody would move, recalls Pope. “They were enthralled with what they were learning. By the end of every session, they were all at the table, all asking questions and all involved.”

“We spoke to 134 kids between grades 6 and 12 and 17 teachers about mining and how it contributes to growth and development within NWT communities,” said Gordon. “It was very hands-on. Everyone was very engaged and had thoughts to share in the conversations.”

“A lot of different types of work are done at mine operations; engineering, construction, machine operation, first response — the list goes on,” said Gordon. “We talked about how they can reach their ambitions in so many fields by staying in school, and how important it is for mining companies to fill many of these fields with NWT residents.

These education initiatives are central to what CSCR does. To support and spread knowledge on responsible development, they routinely work with community governments and organizations throughout the NWT to connect citizens with clear and concise answers to their questions. “Bringing Mining Matters to communities offers more opportunities for engagement and information sharing,” said Gordon. “It fits right in with our mandate.” This building of knowledge is central to the implementation of the NWT’s Mineral Development Strategy.

With the success of this pilot project, the CSCR team is poised to bring similar tours to communities across the territory.

Mining and mineral-related activities are the largest provider of high-paying NWT jobs - and the main driver of the territorial economy, with $678 million in economic activity created by diamond mining alone. Benefits from non-renewable resource production enable investment in many of the 18th Assembly’s priority areas.