Written Submission to Federal Environmental Assessment Review PanelSubmitted By: Brigid Rowan December 23, 2016
This written submission constitutes the recommendations of the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) to the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Panel. At the outset, NCC emphasizes that the Crown and Indigenous Groups (IGs) must approach the current review on a Nation-to-Nation basis. CEAA must be dramatically transformed and decolonized (a) to recognize Indigenous Groups as equal partners in a Nation-to-Nation relationship (with the Crown, CEAA and other IGs) in the EA process for projects impacting Indigenous territories; and (b) to make sustainability a core objective of the legislation. If CEAA is broken beyond repair and cannot be transformed, then it should be replaced with a next-generation EA regime that meets objectives (a) and (b).
Section 2 contains our Preliminary Remarks regarding the EA Review Process. We insist on the unequivocal need for a Nation-to-Nation approach to this entire process.
The NCC’s recommendations are provided in Sections 3, 4 and 5, and summarized below.
1. Change the context of the EA Consultation (Section 3: Environmental Assessment in Context):
The Canadian EA Process and Indigenous Consultation are broken and characterized by mistrust and resistance. To decolonize and establish a Nation-to-Nation relationship with IGs, the Canadian government must build trust. Recent findings in neuroscience (as applied to management) show that trust is essential to move us from conflict to co-creation. These findings are consistent with Indigenous traditions, where trust is essential and decision-making is less hierarchical.
To build trust, we must change the context of the EA Consultation. As the diagram in Section 3.5 illustrates, the Consultation should be transformed from the current top-down hierarchical process into a more collaborative Nation-to-Nation relationship of equals. This transformation will move the relationship towards trust, partnership and eventually collaboration and co-creation.
2. Facilitate Indigenous partnership in the EA Process (Section 4: Overarching Indigenous Considerations):
• Timelines should be more reasonable for IGs and imposed evenly on all parties.
• Address IG capacity limitations by staggering consultations and taking into account seasonal cycles and availability of IGs.
• Provide adequate funding (for capacity building, ITK, expert, legal and community) to enable meaningful participation.
• Integrate ITK as a complement to Scientific Knowledge in evidence-based EA assessments.
3. Correct the Crown’s bias towards project development (Section 5: Overarching Indigenous Concerns/Planning the EA):
• Transform the NEB so it is no longer a captive regulator.
• Incorporate an automatic triggering mechanism for an EA in CEAA.
• Require the proponent to justify the need for the project and consider alternatives.
• Require consideration of cumulative effects and avoid project splitting.
• Involve IGs early in the process (and at every step).
• Ensure that the duty to consult is carried out in good faith and supported by CEAA.
• Recognize the principles of UNDRIP in CEAA.
Finally Section 6 provides NCC’s answers to two undertakings from the Expert Panel about NCC’s capacity related to EA processes. The Annual Core Funding Budget Required by NCC for Nation-to-Nation Partnership in the EA Process is included at the end of Section 6.
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