Aboriginal Consultation

Andrew JohnsonNatural Resources, Online Courses Comments

Priority Project Permission

Starting an industrial project is B.C. can be MASSIVE work. As you may have already read in one of our previous blogs, there are quite a few steps in the process of reaching project approval. However, in Canada and more significantly B.C., a large area that needs to be taken into consideration is the area of Aboriginal Consultation. As an Environmental Monitor, the process of receiving Aboriginal consultation is a very important step.  Since 1990, the courts have imposed on the Federal and Provincial Government the responsibility to consult Aboriginal peoples about the potential impacts of the proposed projects on Aboriginal rights and treaty rights on their territories. It is important to remember that the core of Aboriginal consultations are very clear; the Government has the duty to consult Aboriginal people when a Government decision or a Government action is proposed, when it might impact with a treaty right. This is due to the fact that the duty for Aboriginal consultation exists in the common law.

In some cases, and occurring more frequently today, much of the consultation work is being legally delegated to industry. This means that project proponents will meet with First Nations to discuss the potential impacts and the potential benefits of their proposed projects in the territories. However, it all comes down to the responsibility that lies in the Governments, so Aboriginals should be consulting with both the Government and industry on these processes.

An important consideration of consultation is the fact that it will often result in a difference of agreement as well as a difference of understandings about how the project will proceed in the future. Often these differences of agreement or understanding are drafted into land-use plans, permits, or into the environmental assessment process. Either way, in most cases these processes are formalized in some manner and it will be your responsibility as an Environmental Monitor to ensure these consultation obligations are met.

Want to learn more about the project approval process? Check out the Introduction to Environmental Monitoring course included in UNBC Continuing Studies’ Environmental Monitoring Certificate.