SASKATOON – The Official Opposition Critic for First Nations and Métis Relations, Betty Nippi-Albright, called on the Sask. Party government today to strengthen its flawed consultation framework which is hurting both businesses and First Nations and Métis communities. Recent tensions between the Birch Narrows Dene Nation and a Toronto based uranium mining company have highlighted Saskatchewan’s insufficient consultation framework with respect to impacted First Nations communities.
“Indigenous communities must be full and active participants in the economic growth of this province, however, the Sask. Party government’s failure regarding Truth and Reconciliation and Duty to Consult is failing everyone,” said Nippi-Albright. “Saskatchewan New Democrats are standing up for good jobs and prosperity for everyone. The government’s hands-off approach is only going to create more conflict and hurt projects that could create good jobs for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”
Under the current framework it is up to the government to assess whether a project triggers the duty to consult with no input from the impacted First Nation community. The government’s 2010 and 2013 documents regarding consultation framework and duty to consult policy contradict each other, leading to confusion for both industry and First Nations and Métis communities.
“The situation near Turnor Lake has been the opposite of good interest-based engagement and highlights the need for meaningful processes that respect the interests of everyone involved,” said Nippi-Albright. “In this situation the company has done the right thing in halting activity until proper consultation take place – First Nations communities shouldn’t feel it necessary to set up blockades in order to have their voices heard. The Sask. Party government’s lax consultation processes is setting up too many projects to fail by not respecting their rights up front.”