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Working-Group-on-Natural-Resource-Development-Report-small

Working-Group-on-Natural-Resource-Development-Report-small

AdvancingPositive,

AdvancingPositive, ImpactfulChangeRecommendationDirectly involve First Nationsin the planning, design,management, ownership andreclamation phases of projects.Participation in Pre-regulatory and Regulatory ProcessesThe credibility of a natural resource development project depends on inclusiveenvironmental decision-making, monitoring, reporting, and reclamation effortsthat take into account, and involve, First Nations. Having credibility in the eyes ofcommunity members requires addressing environmental issues in a transparent andfact-based manner, and staying accountable.Given this environmental context, First Nations repeatedly expressed their interest innatural resource development projects provided that they are permitted to participatein the pre-planning, design, management and monitoring of the project, as well asthe reclamation efforts.Some First Nations have established principles and defined parameters to assist inthe stewardship of their lands. These principles and parameters also facilitate thecommunity’s ability to determine how development proceeds.In an effort to overcome existing regulatory barriers, many First Nations are dealingdirectly with companies, often successfully. Some in industry are also willing to engageFirst Nations in planning efforts before regulatory processes get underway and afterthe project description is filed. It is evident to these companies that First Nationsbe involved in the design, monitoring, and reclamation of their lands and waters.Together, companies and local communities can develop and draft applications thathave the necessary support of all implicated parties, including governments, industry,and First Nations.We heard a number of examples where First Nations ownership in projects improvesand enhances the environmental assessment process and subsequent outcomes.Becoming (co)owners of a project enables First Nations and their mandateddevelopment corporations to be involved in the process from the onset, permittingbetter engagement by government — sometimes even before these processescommence.Some lessons may be drawn from Ontario’s forest management plans. In this case,certain provincial regulatory processes have striven to respect wider traditionalterritories of First Nations and to better incorporate traditional ecological knowledgeinto project planning, along with other ecosystem management principles.Page 21

AdvancingPositive, ImpactfulChangeRecommendationWork with First NationsElders and experts who haveenvironmental and land useknowledge and incorporateinto planning and decisionmakingprocesses, such as landmanagement and reclamation.Impacts and EffectsFirst Nations have expressed frustration with attempts to make environmentalassessment processes more responsive to the cumulative effects of multiple projects intheir territories. There is a need to better incorporate cumulative effects assessmentsacross projects and jurisdictions, as varying regulatory systems and policies exist infederal, provincial, territorial, Treaty and First Nations structures. First Nations alsocontinue to advocate for the advice of First Nations expertise, such as knowledgeableElders, to be considered alongside project proponents’ scientific experts and researchstudies. In addition, we also recognized the priority communities place on overcomingchallenges related to the associated costs and timelines of environmental assessments.We understood that these issues would likely continue, unless governments makechanges to address ways to better include First Nations environmental knowledge.There are examples of provincial agreements, and processes recommendedinternationally, which include enhanced participation of First Nations in theenvironmental assessment and monitoring processes. Cumulative effects assessmentsand traditional ecological knowledge can also both be put to use now to minimizeongoing project impacts. Taking an interlinked approach to environmentalassessments and impact and benefit agreements was another suggested solution.Akwesasne Task Force on theEnvironmentIn 1987, the Haudenosaunee community ofAkwesasne established the Akwesasne Task Forceon the Environment, a community-based, grassrootsorganization to address the environmentalproblems they faced. Today, more than 50 peoplework with the organization to ensure that culturallybased processes are respected in the environmentalreview process. The Task Force has carved out aniche in the archaeology field and established aschool to train community-based archaeologists.The mission of the Akwesasne Task Force on theEnvironment is to conserve, preserve, protect andrestore the environment, and natural and culturalresources within the Mohawk territory.Using the two-row wampum approach (http://www.akwesasne.ca/node/118), the Task Force supportsagreements and projects related to deer culling,drinking water, conservation bylaws and officers,three-year species at risk grants, and youth andElders camp designed to impart life skills on theland. The bald eagle and other species have sincereturned to the community’s section of the riverdemonstrating that the Task Force’s efforts areworking.Page 22Page 22

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