Justice Minister David Lametti is seen during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Justice Minister David Lametti is seen during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Ottawa to define ‘prior consent’ through dialogue with First Nations: Lametti

‘If we don’t have the right to say yes or no to development, those areas can be destroyed’

Ottawa can build a shared understanding of free, prior and informed consent with First Nations, Métis and Inuit into a new law to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Justice Minister David Lametti said Thursday.

“From Canada’s perspective, free, prior and informed consent is about self-determination, respectful two-way dialogue and meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples in decisions that affect you, your communities, and your territories,” Lametti said at a virtual forum organized by the Assembly of First Nations to discuss the proposed law.

The Liberal government introduced the long-awaited legislation, Bill C-15, in December after a previous version of the bill died in the Senate ahead of the 2019 election.

It spells out the need for consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights, such as major resource projects, but does not define consent.

The proposed law would require the federal government to work with First Nations, Métis and Inuit to do everything needed to ensure Canadian law is in harmony with the rights and principles in the UN declaration, which Canada endorsed in 2010.

Lametti said the UN declaration and C-15 are fundamental contributions to the government’s work to advance reconciliation and tackle deep-rooted discrimination and racism.

Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in British Columbia, said free, prior and informed consent is vital to First Nations to protect their territories.

“We hear from the prime minister and here in B.C. from the premier and minister of Indigenous relations that (free, prior and informed consent) does not mean a veto,” she said.

“But I’m not sure what consent means if it’s not yes or no.”

Sayers said the right of free, prior and informed consent cannot be read by itself because there are many sections in the UN declaration that talk about Indigenous Peoples’ rights to own, manage and use resources in their territories.

“If we don’t have the right to say yes or no to development, those areas can be destroyed. And our relationship also will be destroyed,” she said.

Lametti said free, prior and informed consent isn’t simply about resources. It’s about having a consensual and informed relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

“It touches upon all the other aspects of the declaration and about our relationship. And we need to, frankly, just get it better,” he said.

“It hasn’t been done in the past, and that’s one of the real vestiges of colonialism, that’s still exist in such a wide variety of sectors.”

Lametti said his view of free, prior and informed consent is that “you try to get to yes, and you do that through dialogue.”

He said good resource projects will only go forward it they have consent from Indigenous Peoples, where a dialogue has been respected.

Lametti said a number of leaders in the resource industry are realizing that dialogue with Indigenous Peoples is not only the best way forward, but it is the only way forward.

“There’s a great deal of positive energy with respect to putting free, prior and informed consent into practice as a process.”

He said Indigenous people should be involved in the development of their land and that he is “optimistic” this will end up making “the idea of a veto meaningless, in the sense that projects will only move forward, where there is that kind of that level of collaborative collaboration between whoever is involved.”

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Most Read