The importance of integrating aboriginal consultation into the environmental assessment process is the focus of an all-day seminar today, Oct. 29, in Halifax.
The seminar provides a unique learning opportunity by bringing together industry, government, Mi’kmaq organizations, consultants, academics and legal professionals. It is sponsored by the Office of Aboriginal Affairs, the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and the Department of Environment.
“I am very pleased to see that the Mi’kmaq and Government of Nova Scotia have organized today’s seminar together, as it reflects our strengthening relationship,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “Nova Scotia benefits from an efficient consultation process that allows us to work together, but we are always striving to improve our processes and relationship.”
Environmental assessments are a key planning tool to determine likely impacts of projects on the environment. These assessments also consider impacts on aboriginal communities and their unique rights.
“We have had an intrinsic connection to the lands and waters since time immemorial,” said Chief Sidney Peters, co-chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. “Co-hosting a seminar focusing on Mi’kmaq consultation and environmental assessments is a welcome opportunity for our nation-to-nation relationship here in Nova Scotia.”
Seminar highlights include the Crown’s legal duty to consult, an update on the province’s consultation policy, the links between consultation and environmental assessments, and the role of proponents in consultations with the Mi’kmaq.