National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebrated by the NWMO
Indigenous guides such as John Harrison (above) work with the NWMO on its environmental characterization field team.
On June 21, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day, taking time to note the unique history and culture, as well as outstanding past and present contributions, of First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada.
At its Toronto office, staff sampled Indigenous cuisine, and were invited to participate in community events and activities, and to view the film “Indian Horse,” a powerful adaptation of Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel about Canada’s residential schools.
“Marking National Indigenous Peoples Day is one of many ways in which we continue to reflect on the contributions that Indigenous peoples and communities have made to our country and to our project,” said Bob Watts, Vice-President of Indigenous Relations. “Honouring Indigenous perspectives and interweaving Indigenous Knowledge with western science is part of the fabric of the NWMO and an essential element of implementing Canada’s plan for used nuclear fuel.”
There are many examples of steps the NWMO has taken to ensure Indigenous perspectives are sought and included: engaging respectfully with Indigenous communities, seeking and receiving ongoing advice from the Council of Knowledge Holders, using guidance drawn from the NWMO’s Reconciliation Policy and Indigenous Knowledge Policy, having staff and contractors participate in Indigenous cultural awareness training, and marking important occasions through ceremony.
Through these initiatives, the NWMO is following calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2015. The Commission called upon Canadians and Indigenous peoples to establish a new and respectful relationship. It also encouraged corporations to provide education for employees on the history of Indigenous peoples. The NWMO is committed to reconciliation and is working broadly to examine how it can respond to the Commission’s recommendations.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is a not-for-profit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository, in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come.
Founded in 2002, the NWMO has been guided for more than 20 years by a dedicated team of world-class scientists, engineers and Indigenous Knowledge Holders that are developing innovative and collaborative solutions for nuclear waste management. Canada’s plan will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it. The NWMO plans to select a site in 2024, and two areas remain in our site selection process: the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario.