BHP Billiton and two Saskatchewan First Nations have signed an Opportunities Agreement for First Nation participation in the Jansen Potash Project at a signing ceremony at Wanuskewin Heritage Park today.
The signing of the agreement was conducted by signatories of the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation and Fishing Lake First Nation and BHP Billiton. The Opportunities Agreement, which is the second to be signed by BHP Billiton and Saskatchewan First Nations, creates mutually beneficial opportunities in employment, business and community development arising from BHP Billiton’s Jansen Potash Project. The agreement includes commitments to capacity-building initiatives in education, training and labour force development. The agreement will also assist in the building of the First Nations business capacity by outlining a process for entrepreneurs and community-owned business development corporations access to project-related business opportunities for the Jansen Project.
“We at BHP Billiton have a strong commitment to sustainability. This commitment includes ensuring we create and maintain meaningful, long-term relationships with the communities in which we operate and around our projects,” said BHP Billiton Canada President Alex Archila. “In signing this agreement, we believe that it will ensure the members of these First Nations can participate meaningfully in the opportunities that arise from the Jansen Project and will enrich the work we do together now and into the future,” he added.
“Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation appreciates the opportunity to work together with BHP Billiton to ensure our community will benefit from the Jansen Project’s development and planned operations. We are satisfied with the process undertaken by BHP Billiton to engage with our community for a mutual understanding, and the commitments we’ve all made,” said Chief Rick Gamble.
“We are here today to sign an agreement which formalizes our relationship, and healthy relationships are built on principles like respect. We have a real opportunity now to build and develop a fruitful relationship to ensure real benefits from the Jansen Project are realised. Now the work begins!” said Councilor Sheryl Kayseas from Fishing Lake First Nation.
The agreement also addresses sharing of information important to environmental management practices and includes governance processes for the parties to co-manage the implementation of the Agreement and report back to the members of the First Nations.