At Goldcorp one of our core values is to respect all our stakeholders, which is about building partnerships, being a team player and treating people fairly. In recognition of National Aboriginal Day in Canada, we introduce you to Thomas Mark, who exemplifies the value of respecting others and goes above and beyond to ensure that the cultural and community relationships between Goldcorp and local Aboriginal stakeholders thrive.
For the last five years, Thomas Mark has served as a cultural bridge between Goldcorp’s Éléonore mine and the Cree Nation of Wemindji in Quebec. Thomas was recognized as one of two Community Champions this year in Goldcorp’s new Global Excellence Awards category honouring select individuals who inspire others through their commitment to the community.
A lifelong resident of the Cree Nation of Wemindji, Thomas is a passionate community advocate, capacity builder and an inspiring role model for young Crees and he has worked tirelessly to strengthen the bond between Goldcorp and the Cree Nation.
Thomas joined the Éléonore team as Community Engagement Officer in 2012 following the signing of a Collaboration Agreement by Goldcorp, the Cree Nation of Wemindji, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Cree Nation Government. Since joining Goldcorp, Thomas has made it a duty to inform and listen to the Cree people so that mining development in the territory is aligned with the community’s values, and builds cultural bridges between the different groups and partners.
Thomas firmly believes that engagement of Aboriginal youth represents a real opportunity for the succession of skilled workers in the mining industry. To make the most of this opportunity, he organizes Éléonore mine visits for secondary students from different Cree communities, introducing them to all the fields of study necessary for mining operations, while encouraging students to continue their education. To ensure young people understand the value of a good education, Thomas also plays an active role in job fairs held in Cree territory.
He has also created sustainable and innovative partnerships with the Cree human resources development services and the school boards to create customized training programs adapted to the needs of the students and Éléonore mine. One of his most notable achievements is the Summer Students Employment Program, where Thomas also acts as a mobilizing representative for both young and older graduates, helping individuals position themselves for internships or student jobs. A persevering go-getter, he regularly knocks on the doors of the different departments at Éléonore to introduce new graduates to department managers. This is how six graduates of a welding program were integrated into the mine’s operations, while two warehouse management students obtained an internship with one of Éléonore’s main contractors on the site.
“Thomas is known to be dedicated to the cause of young people,” noted Chief Dennis Georgekish, Cree Nation of Wemindji. “For him, capacity building of the next generation is of paramount importance.”
Thomas’s advocacy on behalf of young Crees has not gone unnoticed in Wemindji. He was appointed the community’s representative on the board of directors of the Mâyâupiu Training Institute, which offers vocational training programs for all Crees in the territory.
The son and brother of Chiefs, he recognizes the critical importance of protecting the Cree language, culture and traditions. Towards this end, Thomas sits on the board of Wemindji Community Radio – a Cree language radio station that broadcasts throughout the traditional territory. He is regularly interviewed on a range of topics such as employment and training in the mine, environmental issues, and hunting stories that resonate with village elders.
Fluent in Cree and English, Thomas regularly serves as a facilitator and cultural “translator” for the mine and the Wemindji community. He has an inherent ability to explain to everyone, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, the cultural subtleties that help promote better understanding.
He regularly participates in traditional activities in the camps of Cree families affected by the mine’s operations, keeping them informed of developments at the mine and responding to any concerns they may have about potential impacts associated with mining.
“Thomas Mark’s contribution to youth, employees, the Company and the Cree Nation have had a positive and lasting impact on everyone involved,” says Martin Duclos, Director, Sustainable Development, Environment and CSR at Éléonore. “He is a true leader with the confidence and courage to teach us, each day, the cultural subtleties that guarantee the maintenance of an excellent relationship between Goldcorp and the Cree communities.”