The Caucus of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC) has issued additional best practices guidance on key aspects of major project assessment, to support reconciliation between Indigenous Nations and industry and government and better protect people and the environment through Canadian environmental assessment processes.
The guidance appendices are an addition to the FNMPC’s Major Project Assessment Standard, released last year. That standard includes nine principles and over 100 criteria that can be used to gauge the quality of research, consultation, assessment and accommodation related to a specific assessment of a proposed major project. The emphasis of the standard is to increase the meaningful role of Indigenous peoples in assessment and decision-making of industrial developments that have potential benefits and risks for their rights, culture, economic development and the environment.
The five guidance appendices include over 70 criteria for required practices related to the following critical topics:
- Assessment of effects of projects on Indigenous peoples’ social and economic conditions;
- Assessment of effects of projects on Indigenous culture;
- Meaningful integration of Indigenous Knowledge into major project assessments;
- Assessment of effects of projects on Indigenous health; and
- Assessment of effects of projects on Indigenous land use.
“Each of the guidance appendices tackles head on an existing major gap in guidance on a topic where past impact assessments have failed to meaningfully engage Indigenous peoples and perspectives, which has left us on the outside looking in during the assessment of projects that have both benefits and risks to our well-being and way of life,” said FNMPC Chair Chief Sharleen Gale, in a news release. “Now we are helping Indigenous people put themselves in their rightful place, at the centre of assessments and decisions that will impact their futures.”
According to Niilo Edwards, Executive Director of the FNMPC: “The major project assessment standard and these guidance appendices are unprecedented in terms of specific actionable guidance to assist indigenous nations, part of a growing detailed toolkit of resources the FNMPC is developing to assist our members, in protecting their environment and promoting their rights and interests.”
The FNMPC’s environmental stewardship technical team (ESTT) will continue to work in the development and sharing with members and the public, of resources like the standard and guidance appendices, and work with government and industry to make sure these tools are respected and integrated into major project assessments and decisions.
The association will provide highlights on these new First Nation designed environmental stewardship tools at the third annual Industry Engagement Event, which is being hosted in Prince George, March 2-3.