Ashley Stacey – OKT Law website – September 25, 2015
A group of stakeholders consisting of resource companies, financial institutions, environmental groups and First Nations have taken a stand and are insisting that free, prior, and informed consent (“FPIC”) be a condition to development occurring in the traditional territories of Indigenous groups.
This week, the Boreal Leadership Council (“BLC”) released a report urging both the Canadian government and industry proponents to implement FPIC when working with Indigenous groups. This report is another instance amongst the mounting international efforts and evolving court direction in support of FPIC.
Changing the economic and political landscape in Canada requires more than just positive endorsements and public announcements of support, however: it also requires concrete mechanisms for effective implementation. The report picks up on this, as it calls for government, industry and Indigenous communities to all play an active role in implementing FPIC— an effort subject to ongoing development and commitment. Of particular significance is the fact that large business stakeholders such as Tembec and Suncor were amongst the group driving this initiative and proclaiming support for FPIC. The report signals a need to address the shortcomings of the current state of law and federal policy by asking that real work be done to ensure FPIC becomes a practical reality in Canada.