Natalie Popovic speaks Tuesday morning.
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Henry Lickers knows a lot about collaboration.
An environmental science officer from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, a territory that includes both sides of the St. Lawrence along with Ontario and Quebec, Lickers said in order to survive the people there have had to endure every type of development from the building of the seaway itself to heavy industry.
“We've had to work very hard in order to make sure that they’re sustainable and that the people can continue to live on the land,” Lickers said Tuesday, in Thunder Bay for the second annual Northern Ontario First Nations Environment Conference.
As a keynote speaker during Day 2 of the four day conference, Lickers is hoping that the stories he shares can be used by the more than 80 First Nations communities at the conference so they can learn from them in the face of development and its environmental impacts.
Consultation from industry and government wasn't always offered to Akwesasne. The nation of 12,000 were run over by development at times. But times have changed Lickers said.
“In the past we weren't looked at as an ally but as the economies have changed in Eastern Ontario … more and more they’re calling on us for our experience,” he said from Victoria Inn, where the conference took place Tuesday.
Natalie Popovic is an environmental technologist with the Windigo First Nations Council and helped organize the second annual conference.
From the potential of the Ring of Fire development to fuel spills in First Nations communities, there are many environmental concerns to address.
But the conference is more about getting people together first.
“Our solution is to get people talking and sharing,” she said.
Industry, government and environmental experts will all be on hand through workshops and a tradeshow during the conference.
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Day 3 continues Wednesday at the Fort William Historical Park.