Wally Schumann, a former MLA for Hay River South and territorial cabinet minister, has taken on a new role as senior adviser on Aboriginal and Northern affairs for the new owners of Ekati Mine. This winter, Schumann has been helping out at his former business, Poison Graphics.
NNSL file photo

About a month ago, Wally Schumann, the former MLA for Hay River South and territorial cabinet minister, announced he had decided against running for the Conservative Party of Canada in the next federal election.

At that time, Schumann said he would be taking a position in the private sector that would benefit the whole NWT.

That position has now been officially announced as being a senior adviser on Aboriginal and Northern affairs to the board of directors and management of Arctic Canadian Diamond Company Ltd., the new owners of Ekati Mine.

“I am very pleased to be working closely with Arctic,” said Schumann in a March 8 news release from the company. “My appointment strengthens Arctic’s commitments to the Northern communities and helps deliver positive economic results for all parties involved.”

In comments to The Hub, Schumann said his new role, which will basically be an on-call arrangement, will involve engaging with the board and management on many issues from working with impact benefit agreement holders, to permitting processes, to dealing with the leadership of various communities.

“All sorts of issues, a broad range of things,” he said.

Schumann said his new role actually began on or even before Feb. 3 when the purchase by Arctic Canadian Diamond Company Ltd. was finalized.

It acquired all of Dominion Diamond Mines’ assets, except for its interest in the joint venture agreement and liabilities relating to Diavik Diamond Mine.

The sale followed 11 turbulent months for Dominion Diamond Mines after it suspended operations at Ekati in March 2020 to protect employees and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Ekati was put into care and maintenance, and Dominion filed for insolvency protection.

The mine returned to normal operations in January.

Schumann said from Feb. 3 onwards he was focused on helping to get the mine back up and running.

The new adviser said that he will help the ownership group, board of directors and senior managers become familiar with the North.

That could include educating them on anything Northern, including Indigenous governments, the territorial government, the workforce and community engagements.

Schumann believes he will have greater impact on the North than if he had been elected as an MP, noting diamond mining contributes about 30 per cent of GDP in the Northwest Territories.

In particular, he pointed out that Ekati, as the largest diamond mine in the NWT, has been generating up to as much as 15 per cent of the territory’s GDP.

In September, Schumann had said he was “leaning” towards seeking the Conservative nomination in the Northwest Territories riding, which is currently represented by Liberal Michael McLeod.

During the previous legislative assembly, Schumann served as minister of infrastructure and minister of industry, tourism and investment.

In the 2019 territorial election, he lost a re-election bid to Rocky Simpson in Hay River South.

— with files from Blair McBride

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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