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

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP locate driver and vehicle, but are asking for video footage

Students from AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni write anti-bullying messages and draw colourful chalk art around their school for national anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day, Feb. 24, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY LISA ARBANAS)
Chalk art brightens public walkway on Pink Shirt Day

Students from AW Neill Elementary in Port Alberni write messages of hope

Mary Mason of Owls Path Foundation presents plans for a Nuu-chah-nulth Cultural Centre to Port Alberni city council. The structure pictured in this image is the Copenhagen Opera House. (SCREENSHOT)
Nuu-chah-nulth cultural centre pitched for Port Alberni

Three possible locations put forward for multi-million-dollar centre

An endangered Vancouver Island marmot suns itself on rocks at Mount Washington, near the Comox Valley. Learn more about this endangered species with the Alberni Valley Nature Club. (PHOTO COURTESY SANDY MCRUER, AV NATURE CLUB)
Marmots, underwater mysteries part of Alberni Valley Nature Club lineup

Club kicks off membership drive with series of Zoom chats

The current exhibit at the Rollin Art Centre. The art gallery has COVID-19 protective measures in place. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre puts out a call to artists

Port Alberni’s Community Arts Council will hold a pandemic-inspired art exhibit

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read