An inclusive approach is vital to how the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is implementing Canada’s plan, an audience of students and industry professionals gathered in Ottawa heard on Thursday, February 22.
The NWMO’s Vice President, Indigenous Relations, Bob Watts, took part in a panel titled “Next Generation: Diversity” at CNA2018, an annual Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) conference.
“We need to make our industry a safe and welcoming environment for all people, and we want them to be a part of this,” said Watts, addressing the topic of diversity by highlighting the NWMO’s Indigenous Knowledge policy.
“As Indigenous people we have both rights and responsibilities and part of our responsibilities is to ensure that something like waste is taken care of in a way that is mindful and respectful of our teachings.”
“The NWMO looks at how Indigenous Knowledge and Western thought can work together, what different concepts of ‘well-being’ looks like. Such a diversity of thought, opinion and worldview – we look to find ways of accommodating all those things in our work.”
Other panelists were Rachna Clavero from the CANDU Owners Group and Kahtleen Heppell-Masys of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Attendees heard the speakers share their thoughts on an array of issues, including workplace diversity, gender balance, a range of job function, and the importance of social licence for the nuclear industry to operate across Canada.
“We take a lot of cues from the communities we’re working with in terms of what kind of resources they need to make an informed choice,” said Watts.
“We’ve done some work in the field with Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members to understand what’s important, to broaden our horizons. If we just took what’s important to us as engineers or geoscientists, we’d be missing a whole wealth of information that can make our project stronger.”
The panel concluded with a call from the speakers for greater mentorship within the industry between students and community leaders to further enhance collaboration and understanding for future generations.