Darrell Settee of Pimicikamak with SVS's Jeremy Shute
Even when the world is not upside down in a global pandemic, we regularly hear that staff in lands and resources departments of First Nations are overwhelmed by the volume of consultation requests coming in and active files they have to manage. With so many of you now operating with a skeleton staff, working remotely with sketchy internet connections, or unable to work at all, we can help: SVS is offering, at no charge, to be your remote consultation alert solution for the next few months to get you through this crisis.
Our idea is this:
Via email with a point-person on your staff, we would screen incoming consultation requests, notifications and regulatory matters for you, flag key items that require immediate attention, and provide updates and recommendations on next steps for those key items. If this approach is useful you, please get in touch and we can tailor a solution for your circumstances. There is no cost for this service.
It’s our way of doing what we can to help take care of things that still matter while your Nation has much bigger battles to wage. To make sure we fully understand your needs, we would work with you under a written agreement so that everything is clear for you and for us. Also, to be clear, you are all already heroes for doing what you do for your Nations. But even heroes can use some back up now and then!
Why is staying on top of development proposals so important right now?
From hand sanitizer supply chains to donations of emergency lodging and food supplies, we are hearing inspiring stories from all over the place about ways industry has stepped up in remarkable ways to support communities and Indigenous Nations close to their operations during this pandemic.
At the same time, resource companies, including mining, oil and gas, have been deemed essential services. This means the federal and provincial governments want to make sure there are as few barriers as possible for these companies to advance their projects. Word on the street is that government will do everything it can to drive ahead hearings and other regulatory processes for proposed projects in a bid to stimulate the economy. A number of the tribunals are already to set up to accommodate online hearings – this is especially true of CER and CNSC.
If you want your voice to be heard and your Nation’s rights and interests to be properly addressed, you must speak up now more than ever. Proponents and regulators should not be allowed to forget that both wealth creation and environmental protections are still very real priorities for Indigenous Nations.
What might this shift mean for your Nation’s rights and interests?
In these strange times we might start seeing hard-won elements of processes such as the Impact Assessment Act swept aside in the name of the economy. For example, meaningful inclusion of Traditional Knowledge and deep consultation may be framed as barriers to development rather than the fulfilment of a fiduciary duty and an opportunity to create a better project.
Proponent companies may potentially be given a much longer leash from the government and regulators in terms of meeting certain requirements. We will also likely see less flexibility in terms of deadlines for evidence and submission of Traditional Knowledge for inclusion in regulatory processes.
It also means you will likely see smaller amounts of capacity funding offered from proponents for the short to medium term, especially for oil and gas projects, given the price of oil. Companies may not be in a position to fund the studies they typically would, and may also have less incentive to do so if there is a greater push from the government to see projects approved and advancing.
Actions You Can Take Now to Protect Your Rights and Interests
In light of this unfolding new reality, here are some questions to get clear on:
- Do you currently have an engagement/ capacity funding or other type agreement in progress with a proponent? If so, work to get funding unlocked sooner rather than later.
- What strategy/ approach does your legal council recommend for ensuring your rights and interests continue to protected and your concerns can be addressed?
- What technology do you need to participate in negotiation discussions, other proponent engagements or regulatory proceedings remotely?
We are here to help. If you need to brainstorm, do some creative problem solving, or just talk about the craziness of it all, please reach out. We will also be sharing the outcomes and ideas from our own remote working task force to help you move your projects forward in any way we can in future blog posts.
SVS offers a range of Lands and Resources / Consultation support services beyond the emergency support offer
SVS has plenty of experience supporting Lands and Resources staff in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities and organizations across Canada. Whether it’s supporting you in specific negotiations and consultation processes with proponents and regulators, or helping to shape environmental legislation and policy to improve the process overall. We also offer a specific range of services for Lands and Resources departments beyond the scope of the current COVID-19 emergency support offer:
- Full service contract Lands Department:
We do it all, on contract, with full transparency and support for decision-makers in your community/organization.
- GIS services:
A full range of GIS capabilities, including remotely hosting and providing secure access for lands-focused datasets and online mapping functions within your territory.
- Consultation tracking and scheduling dashboards:
Designed to help land managers keep on top of all of the many consultation files your community is following, and to ensure you and your staff are not missing important steps and events along the way.
- Online client-branded file management, storage and retrieval systems: All of your important documents related to consultation are organized, accessible, and secure.
Please let us know if there is anything we can do to support you, or if you require customized solutions. We are always open to new ways to help our clients assert their sovereignty, environmental stewardship, and jurisdiction, and pursue prosperity and community well-being.
Doing Our Part: COVID-19 Actions SVS is Taking for Indigenous Communities
We are working our networks and pulling out all the stops to find ways to support the health and wellbeing of you and your communities. Here are links to some of the projects we are working on:
- Hand Sanitizer to the North: SVS’s Don Richardson has created a supply chain to get hand sanitizer to northern Ontario First Nation frontline workers – Toronto Star article: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/03/31/indigenous-northern-communities-are-short-on-hand-sanitizer-small-breweries-are-answering-the-call.html. Phase two is to expand this initiative to southern Ontario and potentially nationally. Donations are being gathered in two places: www.givesome.org through www.covidhealth.ca and through Global Medic.
- Battery-operated Rapid Covid-19 Tests: There is a company in Guelph producing devices to do Covid-19 rapid testing. While waiting for Health Canada approval, there are a few units ready to go. We are exploring ways to get these to Indigenous communities ASAP. These units cost $17K, do nine tests an hour, and are battery operated like a mobile lab, so perfect for remote communities. https://precisionbiomonitoring.com/media/news/
Other Covid-19 resources:
Stay tuned for updates on these rapidly evolving projects.
About Us: Shared Value Solutions
We are an Canadian B Corp, and we assist Indigenous communities with support throughout regulatory processes surrounding major development projects like mines, hydroelectric facilities, transmission lines, highway expansions, oil and gas pipelines, natural resource transport applications and nuclear power.
We have deep context and experience behind the recommendations we provide, having worked for our clients on almost every major project in Canada over the last 10 years. For us, it’s all about building long-term relationships with our clients. We want to get to know you and what you want to do so we can help you move your plans forward.
- Reviews of Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements
- First Nation Land Code communities
- Indigenous Guardian programs
- Impact Benefit Agreements: technical and regulatory support for negotiations
- Indigenous Jurisdiction initiatives: joint management agreements and co-management agreements
- Community-based Indigenous environmental monitoring
- Indigenous Land Use Planning