As an agent of the Government of Canada and as Canada's nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) recognizes and understands the importance of consulting and building relationships with Canada's Aboriginal peoples.
The CNSC ensures that all its licensing decisions under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) and Environmental Assessment decisions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 uphold the honour of the Crown and consider Aboriginal peoples' potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights pursuant to section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 (together, the "Aboriginal interests").
The CNSC recognizes that Aboriginal peoples have concerns with regard to the nuclear sector and that it is important to seek opportunities to work together in ensuring the safe and effective regulation of nuclear energy and materials. The CNSC will continue to communicate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information about its activities and the effects of the nuclear industry in Canada as per the objectives of the NSCA.
Duty to consult
The duty to consult is founded on the honor of the Crown, which requires that the Crown (or an agent of the Crown) consult with and, if required, accommodate the interests of the Aboriginal peoples when the Crown is aware of real or asserted existence of an Aboriginal or treaty right and contemplates a decision that might adversely affect the exercise of that right. The scope of consultation is proportionate to the asserted Aboriginal or treaty right and the impact of the potentially adverse effect upon it. The CNSC sees itself as one of many organizations that, collectively, have an obligation to ensure that the legal Duty to Consult is met, and the CNSC has articulated its approach in its Codification of Current Practice: CNSC Commitment to Aboriginal Consultation.
Insofar as its quasi-judicial functions allow, the CNSC supports a whole-of-government approach to Aboriginal consultation. The CNSC will coordinate consultative efforts, where feasible, with other federal, provincial, and/or territorial regulatory departments and agencies through a one-window approach with respect to environmental assessment and licensing activities.
The CNSC recognizes the value of community knowledge and Aboriginal traditional knowledge. The CNSC encourages Aboriginal peoples to outline the nature and the scope of their Aboriginal interests that they feel may be affected by a proposed project or activity regulated by CNSC and to bring forward outstanding issues and concerns through out the regulatory process.
In many cases, consultations carried out under an environmental assessment (EA) process may fulfill the duty to consult Aboriginal groups. However, the Crown may also carry out separate consultations and implement mitigation and/or accommodation measures in addition to those done under the EA process.
Consultation requirements for EAs
Consulting Canadians on matters of interest and concern to them is an important part of good governance, sound policy development and decision-making. In accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) and its regulations, EAs provide opportunities for public participation in activities undertaken by potential licensees and/or the CNSC, including Aboriginal consultations.
If you or your community would like to learn more about the EA process, contact the CNSC.
For more information
- Compendium of Indigenous Consultation and Engagement (HTML) (PDF)
- Index of NRCan maps of all Canada Lands, including Indian reserves
- AANDC Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Information System
- Considering Aboriginal traditional knowledge in environmental assessments
- Industry Practices: Developing Effective Working Relationships with Aboriginal Communities (PDF)
- Mining Information Kit for Aboriginal Communities (PDF)
- March 8, 2012: Federal Court of Appeal dismisses McClean Lake duty to consult appeal
- October 28, 2010: Supreme Court of Canada decision on the issue of Aboriginal consultation
- September 24, 2010: Federal Court Decision on the issue of Aboriginal consultation
Need more information?
If you need more information about Aboriginal consultations, contact the CNSC.
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