Watts Highlights the NWMO’s Indigenous Knowledge Policy at CNA2018
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.
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.