BUFFALO NARROWS, Sask. – A new legacy fund is designed to improve life for people in northern communities “for decades,” according to officials from two mining companies. The Six Rivers Fund is a joint effort between Cameco and Areva Resources Canada.
Using interest from a pool of proceeds from uranium recovery at Key Lake, the Six Rivers Fund will make investments in community-driven projects.
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The non-profit will focus on developing services for youth, education, sports, recreation and health and wellness.
Jackie Durocher, the principal of Twin Lakes Community School and deputy mayor of Buffalo Narrows, said the fund could bring dramatic change to post-secondary options and athletic programs for her students.
“We shouldn’t always be sending our northern youth out of the north. We want to build capacity in the north and keep them here,” Durocher said.
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She said funding could also be used to bring dialysis machines to Buffalo Narrows, rather than having patients travel as far as Saskatoon and Regina.
“We have such a high rate of diabetes in northern Saskatchewan. It’s not getting any better. I’ve been an educator for 23 years now. I have not seen an impact.”
First Nations, Métis and municipal leaders were involved in the fund’s consultation process.
“They know better than us and we are very happy with the structure of this fund that gives the responsibility of this fund to the north,” said Vincent Martin, president and CEO of Areva Resources Canada.
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In 2016, $100,000 will be available for projects. As more capital money is deposited into the fund, Cameco and Areva’s eventual goal is for the fund to reach $50-million.
“There’s no fixed number. It’ll vary from year to year, depending on the spot price of uranium,” said Six Rivers Fund board chair Victor Fern.
Applications will be accepted from across the Northern Administration District.
“Putting a trust fund in place that builds up over time will really serve the interests of not just the communities today, but their children and their grandchildren,” said Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco.
Proposals from community groups will be reviewed in the spring and fall every year. Applicants are required to get at least 25 per cent of funding from other sources, along with proving the feasibility of the project’s completion.
A four person board will make all funding decisions. Members come from Fond du Lac, Pelican Narrows, English River First Nation and Southend.