Why is Consultation Important?
Crown actions today, both intentional or unintentional, can have negative impacts on Métis rights, claims, and interests. Impacts include:
- Displacing Métis from the lands
- Preventing contemporary rights exercises (e.g. harvesting, gathering, camping)
- Disrupting income to Métis families
- Hindering Métis Citizen health outcomes
- Negatively impacting Métis families
Who Does Consultation?
Consultation can be initiated by the departments and regulatory bodies of the Government of Canada, Government of Alberta, and its municipalities. Companies in relevant industries can also initiate consultation.
The MNA Consultation Department exists to ensure projects, development, and policy do not adversely impact the rights, claims, and interests of our Citizens.
Broadly, our department consists of:
- Regional Consultation offices staffed with a Consultation Coordinator
- Regional Consultation Committees consisting of the provincial and regional presidents, the Locals in the Region and are chaired by the Regional Consultation Coordinator
- Technical and administrative staff based out of the provincial office, who provide support to Regional Consultation Offices
When is consultation required?
The “Duty to Consult” is a defined legal process established by the courts and an obligation of the Crown to Indigenous peoples in protecting their rights, claims, and interests, including those of the Métis.
The Government of Canada has a duty to consult, and where appropriate, accommodate Indigenous groups when it considers conduct that might adversely impact potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights. This conduct could include:
- Trying to pass legislation or policy that could affect Indigenous peoples. This includes implementing fees to use Crown land or regulating hunting and fishing.
- Issuing a permit allowing a project to proceed. For example, land developments like municipal infrastructure or natural resource projects like pipelines, oil wells, or logging.
- Taking up Crown lands for development or protection, such as creating new Reserves under the Indian Act, and designation of parks and protected areas.
What does Consultation look like?
- Meeting with the Crown or Industry Proponents. Information is shared about projects, policy, and legislation drafts, and can help develop processes for active consultation areas
- Negotiating capacity for the MNA to meaningfully take part in consultation
- Responding to questions and concerns. These are raised by Citizens, the Crown, or the proponent about a project
- Demonstrating the existence of Métis rights, claims, and interests. These are backed by historical records research, Citizen engagements, and TLUs
- Defining and recording concerns or potential impacts of a project on Métis rights, claims, and interests
- Maintaining a complete record of all consultation activities. This includes environmental reviews, TLUs, and engagement outcomes
- Designing and negotiating mitigation and accommodation measures to offset potential impacts
- Drafting & supporting legal interventions to Regulatory Tribunals and Courts where potential impacts are not meaningfully addressed
Traditional Knowledge & TLUs
MNA Citizens are often the first and most aware of potential impacts a project or policy may have on their community. Consultation staff conduct interviews with Elders, Knowledge Holders, and other Métis Citizens in culturally sensitive and appropriate way. Traditional knowledge contributes to our understanding of Métis communities both past and present.
Traditional Land Use Studies (TLUs)
TLUs involve visiting sites of current and historical significance to the Métis across the province to collect data affirming the existence of Métis rights, claims, and interests.
These studies rely on Citizens and Knowledge Holders who continue to exercise their Indigenous rights.
Some of the data we collect during a study include:
- Historical photographs, images, and maps
- Documents: newsletters, articles, scrip, land deeds
- Personal stories of ancestral and historic use
- Trap line locations, information, and histories
- Harvesting areas
- Identification of culturally significant plants
- Identification of terrestrial and aquatic species of importance
- Gravesites and other cultural or ceremonial gathering sites
Examples of Consultation Outcomes
A municipality was directed to consult because of our Consultation Agreement (2018). Our Consultation Team negotiated mitigation measures amending the construction plan and negotiated accommodation measures to support local harvesters and the MNA consultation policy in Alberta.
Regulatory Proceedings and Interventions
The Government of Alberta and a proponent (industry company) refused consultation with the MNA. Potential Métis rights impacts were identified in Region 3 (the Tail Creek area, in particular). We filed for regulatory intervention with Alberta Utilities Commission and won us the first-ever order granting standing to the MNA as representative of a rights-bearing Métis collectivity in Alberta.
The Consultation Team led province-wide consultation of a pipeline route. We identified historical and current Métis communities and rights-based land uses along the route. We delivered a plan to the Government of Canada and proponent (industry company) to set up negotiations undertaken by the MNA Economic Development and Executive Teams.
Federal Policy and Regulation
Our policy analysts and technicians reviewed proposed Navigation Protection Program policy changes where we found impacts to Indigenous rights and provided feedback for policy changes.