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

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Members of the Nelson Nordic Ski Club show off their new snowcat. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Nordic Club celebrates new snowcat

A community fundraising effort led to the purchase

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
Kootenay-Columbia MP supports motion condemning Uighur genocide

Rob Morrison says labelling Uighur persecution as a genocide sends a message to Chinese government

The Skinny Genes Foundation is raising awareness and funds for a rare genetic disorder that claimed both his father and uncle.
NHL players, local businesses help Kootenay man raise funds and awareness for rare genetic disease

Signed NHL jerseys and local business donations up for auction in Skinny Genes Foundation fundraiser

An architectural design proposal from June, 2020, illustrates what a re-developed Hall Street Pier might look like. Illustration: City of Nelson
Nelson receives $1M grant for Hall St. Pier project

The design and extent of the project will be decided in the next few weeks

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

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

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read