Learning to Listen: Snapshots of Aboriginal Participation in Environmental Assessment
Environmental Assessment has become more than a technical tool for predicting and mitigating a project’s impacts. It is now on the front lines of conflict and reconciliation between Aboriginal peoples, governments, and resource developers. Canada needs to do more to get the process right. There is a great opportunity for it to do so with the federal government announcing in June 2016 that it will strike panels to review the NEB and the environmental assessment process. While the more prominent current cases are indeed important, there is much to be learned from the diversity of EA experiences and processes in projects across the country. It might surprise many to know that as of June 2016, there were approximately 79 federal EAs in progress across the country. This paper presents a series of eight case studies that explore how Indigenous communities were engaged. While very few EAs satisfy all parties, some proponents and EA processes have done a much better job than others of including Indigenous communities, integrating their traditional knowledge, and responding to their concerns. We can learn from these experiences.