New protocol will establish more productive, respectful relationships: Premier
The Manitoba government will be developing a new provincial mineral development protocol with First Nation communities, Premier Brian Pallister announced here today, joined by Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen and Indigenous and Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke.
“Working in partnership with First Nation communities to develop this protocol will enable us to establish a clear pathway forward on mineral development with a stable and predictable consultation process that will ensure Manitoba is informed of, and addresses, potential adverse effects to the exercise of Aboriginal and Treaty rights,” said Pallister. “This will also provide a shared opportunity to enhance public confidence in the mineral sector and the necessary assurance that Manitoba is the right place for business to invest, build and grow. First Nations communities must be involved in all aspects of mineral development, and share in the benefits resulting from projects, while ensuring that Aboriginal and Treaty rights are protected.”
This process, which will be co-chaired by Chief Ron Evans of Norway House Cree Nation and Jim Downey, former Manitoba deputy premier and cabinet minister, will engage First Nations communities that have immediate or potential mineral development opportunities and are interested in participating.
“First Nations leaders and communities need to be directly involved in the process of mineral exploration and development,” said Evans. “We must work together with governments to develop a protocol to meet the needs of our communities. We need to be involved as nations, employees, managers and as companies providing services and supplies. I look forward to working on this initiative.”
The new protocol will define how consultations will occur during the phases of mineral development including grassroots exploration, mechanized disturbance, advanced exploration and mine development, Cullen said. It will give greater certainty to companies interested in mineral development in Manitoba, as the different phases of development have dramatically different impacts on the exercise of Aboriginal and Treaty rights, he added. This protocol will ensure that potential adverse effects to Aboriginal and Treaty rights will be clearly articulated and addressed during consultation processes in all phases of mineral development in the province.
“This is a win for all Manitobans, Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” said Downey. “A mutually agreed-to mineral development protocol is a significant initiative for fostering greater economic development opportunities across Manitoba’s north and this includes generating jobs and wealth for First Nation communities. I am extremely pleased to work with Chief Evans, whose leadership and determination has been a huge part of the north.”
Clarke noted many First Nation communities have expressed a strong interest in participating in resource development projects but face significant barriers that could be addressed through improved relationships, earlier and more frequent communications with government and industry representatives, a clearer understanding of the benefits that will accrue to their communities, and a more formalized role in the development of these projects.
“This process will advance reconciliation by fostering a mutually respectful relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples, and inform the completion of a new strengthened and renewed government-wide duty to consult framework that we are developing,” said Pallister. “It will also provide mineral exploration and mining industries with a clear understanding of the requirements and processes for mineral development projects in Indigenous traditional territories.”
The premier added that conversations with northern communities as part of Manitoba’s Look North initiative have demonstrated that mineral development is a priority in the north, and the government is committed to strengthening relationships with Indigenous peoples in order to continue to build a more prosperous Manitoba with opportunities for everyone.