The Involvement Of Aboriginal Peoples Essay

The Involvement Of Aboriginal Peoples Essay

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Globally, the involvement of Aboriginal Peoples is recognized as an especially important aspect of EA (Udofia et al., 2016). This is not surprising, as it is well documented that the environmental impacts of development can have harsher implications for Aboriginal groups due to their increased reliance on the land (Booth & Skelton, 2011a). In EA, a substantial focus is placed on addressing land rights and inherent jurisdictions of Aboriginal people and ensuring their involvement in the EA process (Udofia et al., 2016). Despite this, the way in which the federal government coordinates with Aboriginal people in the EA process has endured major criticism from scholars (Kirchhoff et al., 2013) and has been repeatedly challenged by Aboriginal communities (Glucker et al., 2013).
The interests of Aboriginal People and their inherent jurisdiction are legally considered in both the federal Duty to Consult process and by the principles governed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act of 2012. However, in practice, aboriginal interests are poorly reflected in the federal EA process (Booth & Skelton, 2011a).
The relationship between the government and First Nations in EA is one which often encounters issues of trust, assumptions and interpretation problems, which can arise in the duty to consult process (Hitch & Fidler, 2007). It is the government’s legal obligation to meaningfully consult with First Nations and ensure that title and treaty rights are accommodated in development processes, as per the Duty to Consult, outlined in Section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982 (Kirchhoff et al., 2013). In the Duty to Consult process, the roles and responsibilities of government are suggested to be very “ambiguous” (Udofia et al., 2016, Hitch & ...

... middle of paper ... and knowledge by First Nations, which came far earlier than the processes currently governed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (Paci et al., 2002). Despite this, traditional Aboriginal environmental knowledge does not play a large role in EA (Paci et al., 2002), and the reasons for this can be associated with the lack of concrete significance placed on Aboriginal traditional knowledge in CEAA (2012): "the environmental assessment of a designated project may take into account community knowledge and Aboriginal traditional knowledge" (CEAA,2012). The use of the word "may" provide ample opportunity for traditional aboriginal knowledge to be dismissed in the EA process. The application of traditional aboriginal knowledge in EA ultimately supports Aboriginal mandates for resource and environmental management in their communities (Paci et al., 2002).

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