TORONTO, ON – DAREarts is saddened by the passing of its Chairman, Paul Semple, COO of Noront Resources.
There is a saying in Mi’kmaqi. Amujpa gegnue’g ta’n telmimajin gtu’ulo’tegen. Loose translation: To have lived well you must live a good life. We all lost a dear friend, too soon. We met Paul Semple six years ago when DAREarts approached Noront Resources for support for our pilot Aboriginal program. We had started a documentary (Fill My Hollow Bones) about our first three years with students in Webequie, and he and his corporate responsibility team were listening to us talk about our work in the fly-in community of Webequie.
After graciously complimenting us on what we’d been able to achieve with the youth after just a year, Paul asked if we were not afraid that, down the line, we’d be accused of “getting into bed with the wrong people.” They are, after all, a mining exploration company, having just discovered the “Ring of Fire.” At that time there were other companies sniffing around NAN Territory, staking land, taking samples, leaving their camp’s garbage lying on traplines. We’ve seen the pictures, heard the stories, from people who were not impressed with what they were seeing as an invasion of their lands.
We told him, “Bring it on. We know you’re going to get it right this time. You have the opportunity to do the right thing in collaboration with these communities.” From that time on, we connected on a level that we’re sure hundreds of other people share. That feeling that whomever he spoke to, they were getting his undivided attention and utter respect.
Not long after, Noront Resources and the community of Marten Falls invited DAREarts to work with kids there who, for a complicated list of reasons, needed motivation to come to school. Noront recognizes that there is a wealth of talent in the North, that these kids are stakeholders that will become positive motivators for communities and economies. So he took his commitment to help DAREarts a few big steps further.
Paul joined the DAREarts Board of Directors in January, 2010 and was Vice-President for the last three years. This January, he became Chairman. He and Noront hosted a fundraiser at the PDAC, which reminded other companies that other people, plants, animals live on the ground they are exploiting, and that they too have a responsibility to respect Treaties, unceded land claims and other important things like children. Noront raised enough funds to send DAREarts artists to more communities. Our documentary, “Fill My Hollow Bones”, supported by Noront, was presented at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in a premiere which celebrated the accomplishments of Webequie youth’s work over three years. For several years, Paul presented a DAREarts Leadership Award to a deserving youth. The voice of a big man, resonate and deep, was his greatest gift to us.
On several occasions such as these, we were treated to his humour and warmth. He reminded us that we all have a responsibility to “do the right thing.” This kindness, this example is appreciated. His philosophy is reflected in the actions of everyone we’ve met at Noront. And we’re hopeful that the future holds good things for his legacy and the people we love in northern Ontario.
Paul’s measured leadership will be greatly missed. He understood the importance of giving youth every chance possible to ‘become their best selves.’ We will honour Paul’s legacy by continuing to build the courage and confidence within the youth to become leaders who ignite positive change.
Wela’lin k’wis, Paul Semple. (Thank you, little brother)