By Rick Garrick
WAHNAPITAE FIRST NATION – Dakota Recollet has a long-term goal to help First Nation communities create sustainable development partnerships with mining companies similar to her own community’s partnerships.
“Wahnapitae does a lot of work and partnership agreements with the mining companies that surround them,” says the 23-year-old fourth-year Laurentian University geology student and mother of four young children. “They’ve done a lot of really good work in regards to the environment and keeping everything so it is sustainable for their community.”
Recollet says her community has been working with mining companies for about 20 years.
“They had a really good partnership with Vale, (one of the mining companies) in Sudbury,” Recollet says. “And now they have developed another partnership with Glencore, (another mining company in Sudbury), that is going on for quite a few years as well. Both mines have locations that are really close to the reserve, so they have a good team in Wahnapitae that focuses on sustainable development and these agreement to make sure the mines are operating properly and making sure they are not damaging the environment.”
Recollet says her community is one of the few that have developed sustainable development partnerships with mining companies.
“One day I hope to bring that knowledge to other communities and help them,” Recollet says.
But for now, Recollet plans to return to her summer position in Glencore’s Sudbury Operations exploration department this upcoming summer, where she has worked for the past two summers.
“I still have a lot of things I want to look at,” Recollet says. “There are a lot of opportunities in geology.”
Once Recollet completes a couple of courses next fall to earn her geology degree, she aims to continue her career with Glencore.
“The job I’ve been doing is a lot of outdoor work — the first summer I was there I did a lot of their environmental assessments (on) the drills they were doing,” Recollet says. “After their (exploration) drills closed up, I would go in and make sure the drilling company cleaned up properly.”
Recollet also did environmental assessments on some older drill sites that had not been completed in past years.
“This past summer I was working more with their geophysics modelling because I was pregnant,” Recollet says, noting she learned a variety of skills and information over both summers at Glencore. “It was kind of interesting to see the work that they do. They put a lot of (effort) into their exploration.”
Having always been interested in geology since she was young, Recollet signed up for a few elective courses in earth sciences during high school, which steered her towards studying geology at Laurentian.
“(It’s) been hard, but interesting,” Recollect says about her university studies. “I have four children, so being a full-time student and taking care of my kids has been quite a struggle but I’m enjoying it. I like learning the information; it’s really interesting.”
While her children are enrolled in daycare during the day, Recollet usually gets help from her family to look after her children whenever she has evening classes.
“My oldest son is five,” Recollet says. “I don’t think they quite understand what I do yet.”
Recollet says a second-year mineralogy course was the most interesting course during her geology studies.
“It’s probably the toughest course I’ve taken so far but it was also the most interesting,” Recollet says. “I just took a structural geology course too, which is cool because it shows you how to determine where there are faults under the ground and what kind of surfaces are safe to mine on.”