Stantec Presentation at December 12, 2016 Session in Vancouver Received Dec. 20, 2016Submitted By: Vancouver December 29, 2016
As per your request following our presentation to the Expert Panel in Vancouver on December 12, please find attached a copy of our materials. In the follow-up questions following our presentation, the Expert Panel asked two questions that we would like to elaborate upon.
The first, was how many Aboriginal employees Stantec has and how are they involved with our EA practice. We have confirmed that 81 staff members within Stantec who self-identified as Aboriginal people in 2016 and they work across our five business units. Denise Pothier, our VP of Aboriginal Relations is responsible for coordinating Stantec’s corporate approach to Aboriginal involvement, training and hiring in all of our eight business lines. She is of Mi'kmaq descent.
In addition, Stantec has seven formal business partnerships with aboriginal groups across Canada. These businesses are majority owned by the Aboriginal partner or organization. In addition to profit sharing, the businesses also hire Aboriginal people on projects. As an example, over the past decade, KAVIK-Stantec in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region has trained over 100 community members as marine mammal monitors and deploys them on research vessels, drill ships and other marine vessels in the Canadian Beaufort Sea.
Participation of Aboriginal groups and peoples in the EA process is much greater than the employment opportunities provided by consulting firms such as Stantec. This occurs through many components of a project life-cycle as outlined below.
• Leading up to, and during, the EA process, many proponents provide capacity funding to potentially affected Aboriginal groups. These monies are used to pay for activities such as attendance at project-related meetings (covering costs for Chief, council members and in-house staff), hold community meetings, coordinate their review of EA documents, hiring consultants to support review of the EIS, and hiring lawyers to negotiate benefit agreements.
• During baseline studies, proponents encourage their consultants to retain local Aboriginal people and companies to support the data collection. For many of the large infrastructure projects in Canada, approximately 10%-20% of the total cost for baseline field studies conducted by Stantec has been associated with hiring Aboriginal employees and Aboriginal-owned businesses from communities close to the project. Aboriginal businesses hired by Stantec provide a wide range of services for our field programs and community engagement, including environmental surveys and monitoring, logistical support, equipment rentals and accommodations.
• Elders, harvesters, youth, and women are often involved in field reconnaissance visits, workshops, and in traditional knowledge/traditional land use studies. In many cases, communities conduct their own studies. This body of information is used to inform the assessment.
The second question was around our recommendation that all information in an environmental assessment to be evidence-based. The Panel asked how would apply this to Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Land Use?
Over the past two decades, Stantec has participated in the collaborative development of methods to collect and document traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional land use (TLU) information in many areas of Canada. TK/TLU, when appropriately documented and summarized, is an important information source for many environmental assessments. TK can provide strong, verifiable information on trends in biological populations, habitat use, habitat quality, migratory and seasonal movements, animal health, heritage sites and physical aspects of the environment. TLU provides insight on past and current uses of the land and resources by Aboriginal people.
As in western science, there can be variability in the quality, relevance, and reliability of TK/TLU depending on the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected, documented, and summarized. Some methods used to verify western science – standardized methods, peer review, and convergence of conclusions (i.e., like information sources come to like conclusions) – can also be used among Aboriginal groups to corroborate TK/TLU. Other methods used to verify western science, such as use of statistical analyses, are less applicable TK/TLU.
The establishment of standards for TK/TLU, without interrogating the substance or the veracity of the knowledge itself, will help promote the value and use of this information by all parties in environmental assessment, post-approval permitting, and post-approval monitoring.
Ward Prystay, M.Sc., R.P.Bio.
Vice President, Environmental Services
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