Justice Minister David Lametti is seen during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Justice Minister David Lametti is seen during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Ottawa to define ‘prior consent’ through dialogue with First Nations: Lametti

‘If we don’t have the right to say yes or no to development, those areas can be destroyed’

Ottawa can build a shared understanding of free, prior and informed consent with First Nations, Métis and Inuit into a new law to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Justice Minister David Lametti said Thursday.

“From Canada’s perspective, free, prior and informed consent is about self-determination, respectful two-way dialogue and meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples in decisions that affect you, your communities, and your territories,” Lametti said at a virtual forum organized by the Assembly of First Nations to discuss the proposed law.

The Liberal government introduced the long-awaited legislation, Bill C-15, in December after a previous version of the bill died in the Senate ahead of the 2019 election.

It spells out the need for consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights, such as major resource projects, but does not define consent.

The proposed law would require the federal government to work with First Nations, Métis and Inuit to do everything needed to ensure Canadian law is in harmony with the rights and principles in the UN declaration, which Canada endorsed in 2010.

Lametti said the UN declaration and C-15 are fundamental contributions to the government’s work to advance reconciliation and tackle deep-rooted discrimination and racism.

Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in British Columbia, said free, prior and informed consent is vital to First Nations to protect their territories.

“We hear from the prime minister and here in B.C. from the premier and minister of Indigenous relations that (free, prior and informed consent) does not mean a veto,” she said.

“But I’m not sure what consent means if it’s not yes or no.”

Sayers said the right of free, prior and informed consent cannot be read by itself because there are many sections in the UN declaration that talk about Indigenous Peoples’ rights to own, manage and use resources in their territories.

“If we don’t have the right to say yes or no to development, those areas can be destroyed. And our relationship also will be destroyed,” she said.

Lametti said free, prior and informed consent isn’t simply about resources. It’s about having a consensual and informed relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

“It touches upon all the other aspects of the declaration and about our relationship. And we need to, frankly, just get it better,” he said.

“It hasn’t been done in the past, and that’s one of the real vestiges of colonialism, that’s still exist in such a wide variety of sectors.”

Lametti said his view of free, prior and informed consent is that “you try to get to yes, and you do that through dialogue.”

He said good resource projects will only go forward it they have consent from Indigenous Peoples, where a dialogue has been respected.

Lametti said a number of leaders in the resource industry are realizing that dialogue with Indigenous Peoples is not only the best way forward, but it is the only way forward.

“There’s a great deal of positive energy with respect to putting free, prior and informed consent into practice as a process.”

He said Indigenous people should be involved in the development of their land and that he is “optimistic” this will end up making “the idea of a veto meaningless, in the sense that projects will only move forward, where there is that kind of that level of collaborative collaboration between whoever is involved.”

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo from Highway 11 Functional Planning Study)
Public input wanted for Highway 11 improvement plan

Round 2 of public online engagement continues until March 10

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

Seniors in the 65-unit Piper Creek Lodge are among those waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta senior lodges anxiously waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations

“Should be at the front of the line, not the back of the line”

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during their appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta Appeal Court orders 3rd trial for parents in toddler’s meningitis death

Stephans were accused of not seeking medical attention sooner for Ezekiel, who had meningitis when he died

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Kiara Robillard is seen in an undated handout photo. When the pandemic began, Robillard had to rush back home to Alberta from California, where she had been living for five years, after she was struck by a truck that broke her spine in two places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiara Robillard, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A decommissioned pumpjack is shown at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending all of the licences held by an oil and gas producer with more than 2,200 wells and 2,100 pipelines after it failed to bring its operations into compliance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination

Most Read