Survey praises Canadian Arctic companies for respecting indigenous rights

Canadian Arctic companies rank well in survey

An international survey on resource development in the Arctic has ranked Canadian companies among the highest in the world for their policies on respecting indigenous rights.

A report from a member of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs says that four of the top 10 companies operating north of the Arctic Circle are Canadian. They include miners such as Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.a) and energy majors such as Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO).

“Companies operating in Canada and the U.S. do score very well,” said Indra Overland, the political scientist who heads the energy department for the institute, one of Norway’s most prominent think tanks.

Overland’s report, the result of three years of work, looks at 92 resource extraction companies operating above the Arctic Circle.

“I wanted to do something that interacts with and impacts on the real world,” he said.

His survey attempts to assess the internal policies and supports within various industry players.

It asked companies 20 questions about commitments to international agreements such as the International Labour Organization’s convention on the rights of indigenous people. It examined whether the company had staff devoted to handling indigenous rights and how well-qualified they were.

It also looked at track records on indigenous issues, transparency and consultation.

It didn’t assess the actual behaviour of the companies. That would involve prohibitive expense and travel, said Overland.

He called the survey a first step, saying you have to know what industry is promising before you can judge if it’s delivering.

“You first need people to make a commitment to something before you can hold them to that commitment. It makes it easier to pressure or induce companies to good behaviour.”

The top scorer in the survey was Teck Alaska, a subsidiary of Teck Resources. Canadian miners Baffinland and Kinross Gold (TSX:K) slotted in at the seventh and eighth spots. Imperial Oil was 10th.

MMG Resources, a Chinese- and Australian-owned company but active in Nunavut, landed in third spot.

Overland said his results suggest large companies — at least in their policies — do a better job with indigenous rights than smaller ones.

“It’s quite clear the bigger companies do better. Bigger companies have more resources.”

And, despite the reputation of their countries, companies from Denmark and Norway didn’t do well, he added.

“(They) tend to see themselves as progressive on indigenous rights, but we score low.”

Pierre Gratton of the Mining Association of Canada praised Overland’s report as a “sincere effort to look at basic indicators.”

But requiring companies to be working above the Arctic Circle to be included in the survey unfairly left out many miners who work in Canada’s North, he said.

The survey didn’t include the operators of Canada’s three Arctic diamond mines and also left out Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine in Nunavut.

“Our Arctic is much colder than, say, Finland’s, Sweden’s and Norway’s,” Gratton said in an email. “As a result, there have been very few mines north of the Arctic Circle and not a lot of exploration either.

“Mines such as Diavik, Ekati, Gahcho Kue and Meadowbank, just south of the Arctic Circle, would have raised Canada’s rating significantly.”  

Overland said he hopes to repeat his survey on an annual or semi-annual basis to track industry promises over time.

— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960

 

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Kelowna woman runs to beat hunger

Teri Kanner is collecting donations for the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank

Battle of the concert bands in Lake Country

The annual Concert Band competition is held at Creekside Theatre April 24 to 26

Snoozed through the news? We’ve got you covered

Every Saturday, the Capital News will feature popular stories from the week

Immigrant finds Kelowna job market challenging

Pearl has a Master’s Degree in Finance and was able to find work through KCR

Okanagan Eats back for another year

Okanagan Eats features vendors, chef demos, and so much more. This isn’t your average food show.

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision in last B.C. election

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

VIDEO: 33 Oliver-area homes evacuated due to flooding

Flooding in the Sportsman Bowl area has swelled drastically over course of one week

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Horgan speaks of government’s successes to ‘friends’ at CUPE BC convention

CUPE BC president Paul Faoro said was first time a B.C. premier addressed convention in some time

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

Most Read