As community visits for our first ever Northwest Territories-made Mineral Resources Act continue, we want to highlight four key themes for discussion we will be focusing on at these public engagement sessions.
Mining and mineral exploration projects require governments, businesses, and people with different priorities and with different mandates to work together to find common ground and reach the best outcomes for their own values and stakeholders.
In the Northwest Territories (NWT), this includes Indigenous governments and organizations; public governments; mining and exploration companies; other stakeholders like land and water boards; and all residents across the territory.
There’s no denying it can be complicated, but the Government of the Northwest Territories has the chance to put clear processes in place to help these groups find ways to work together for the best future possible.
These processes could be for things like Indigenous engagement and consultation, understanding expectations, transparency, and accountability.
There are a few overarching principles we see as important in this conversation.
- Respecting the rights and traditions of Indigenous peoples
- Bringing certainty to the processes of engagement and consultation
- Encouraging meaningful dialogue between mining companies and Indigenous peoples
Under this general theme, there are a few key topics to consider.
Section 35 Consultations: Canada’s Constitution Act enshrines protections for Aboriginal and Treaty rights, and requires official consultation with Indigenous governments when actions could negatively affect those rights. Should we clarify roles and requirements for consultation with this new Act? If so, how?
Dialogue between Industry and Indigenous governments, organizations, and peoples: We should make sure processes support real dialogue between industry and Indigenous partners. How can we promote dialogue between Indigenous peoples and mining companies? Are there ways we can make sure mining companies engage with Indigenous communities early and often as a project develops?
Creating shared expectations: Neither the current Mining Regulations — which the Mineral Resources Act will replace and improve— nor the federal Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act provides certainty on when consultation is required. This is particularly true for early-stage exploration projects. They also do not set out clearly what roles industry and Indigenous governments should play. How could the new Act provide clarity and certainty to these processes? How can the GNWT ensure the new Act creates shared expectations for both Indigenous governments and industry partners?
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