Consultation Roundtable Delegates Spell Out Wishes
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 16:00
Nearly 500 delegates held closed-door meetings at the Aboriginal duty to consult roundtable in Saskatoon today.
Participants were given the opportunity to offer their input on specific questions related to the government’s legal responsibility for consultation and accommodation when Aboriginal rights or lands could be impacted by development.
Premier Brad Wall says the province, industry and First Nations and Metis groups are seeking common ground on the issue.
He also stresses this is just the beginning of a long process.
First Nations and Metis Relations Minister June Draude is hopeful a protocol will be established by the end of the year.
Both First Nations and Metis leaders have been asking for money to properly map their traditional territories.
The provincial government has recognized that as a need, but hasn’t committed a specific amount.
Yesterday, Clearwater River Dene Nation Chief Roy Cheecham told the crowd that industry and government must not attempt to develop northern Saskatchewan without making First Nations and Metis leaders full and equal partners.
Cheecham also expressed frustration that the federal government was not at the roundtable conference.
He says that is the level of government that the treaties are signed with, so Ottawa should have representation there.
Industry has been represented at this roundtable discussion by officials from the forestry, mining, and oil and gas sectors.
Representatives of each sector expressed similar concerns about the duty to consult issue yesterday.
They want a clearly outlined process so everyone knows what is expected of them.
They also want to know when consultation should occur and who it should happen with.
And Jerry Harvey, vice-president of Canadian Natural Resources Limited, says the oil and gas industry wants the Crown to ensure Aboriginal groups have money to properly facilitate consultation.
Pam Schwann, the executive director of the Saskatchewan Mining Association, echoed that sentiment.
She also wants the government to be ready to expedite processes related to the duty to consult.
Schwann says industry requires information concerning the mapping of traditional land use areas.
As well, she says someone needs to make sure there isn’t duplication in the process, and to ensure timelines are established.