New Framework to Guide Inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge in Impact Assessments
September 26, 2022
Indigenous Peoples have a deep connection with the land and resources. When we consistently incorporate their unique knowledge about those lands and resources in the impact assessment process, we can better understand and address potential impacts of projects.
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, announced the release of the Indigenous Knowledge Policy Framework for Project Reviews and Regulatory Decisions (the Framework) which was developed in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.
This important framework will inform the respectful, consistent and meaningful inclusion and protection of Indigenous Knowledge in project reviews and regulatory decisions under the Impact Assessment Act; the Canadian Navigable Waters Act; the Canadian Energy Regulator Act; and the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act.
The Framework provides a foundation for stronger relationships between the Government of Canada and Indigenous Peoples based on respect for different worldviews and sources of knowledge. It will better enable the inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge in the impact assessment process to improve project design, strengthen mitigation and accommodation measures, and make sound regulatory decisions for sustainable resource development.
Recognizing the importance of Indigenous Knowledge systems and providing for its respectful inclusion in assessments of major projects like dams, mines, and liquefied natural gas facilities is one more step in the Government’s efforts to strengthen partnership with Indigenous Peoples. It is a concrete example of how the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is implementing the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Framework is the first step in the development of guidance specific to Indigenous Knowledge in impact assessment, including on best practices for reviewing Indigenous Knowledge in project submissions and establishing confidentiality procedures.
The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada thanks the 79 Indigenous communities and organizations across the country, and the Agency’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, for their invaluable collaboration and guidance in the development of this framework.
“Indigenous Knowledge has made, and continues to make, valuable contributions to environmental, regulatory and other processes across the country. Today’s announcement is an important step forward in the Government of Canada’s commitment to foster reconciliation and partnership with Indigenous Peoples by aligning federal regulators and decision-makers on how to respectfully and meaningfully include Indigenous Knowledge in project reviews and regulatory decisions.”
— The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada
- “Indigenous Knowledge” is a set of complex knowledge systems based on the worldviews of Indigenous Peoples. It reflects the unique cultures, languages, governance systems and histories of Indigenous Peoples from a particular location. It is dynamic, evolves over time, builds on the experiences of earlier generations and adapts to present conditions. First Nations, Inuit and Métis each have a distinct way of describing their Knowledge. Knowledge-holders are the only people who can truly define Indigenous Knowledge for their communities.
- The Framework will guide how the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, Transport Canada, Canada Energy Regulator and Fisheries and Oceans Canada implement the Indigenous Knowledge provisions in the following Acts:
- The Impact Assessment Act;
- The Canadian Navigable Waters Act;
- The Canadian Energy Regulator Act; and
- The fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act.
- The Framework was built on five guiding principles:
- Respect Indigenous Peoples and their knowledge;
- Establish and maintain collaborative relationships with Indigenous Peoples;
- Meaningfully consider Indigenous Knowledge;
- Respect the confidentiality of Indigenous Knowledge; and
- Support capacity building related to Indigenous Knowledge.
- In 2019, twenty-five engagement sessions with Indigenous organizations were held across the country to seek feedback on what could be included in the Framework. Fifty-five responses to a discussion paper on the Framework were also received from Indigenous organizations, government agencies, and industry associations.
- In 2021, seventy-nine Indigenous communities and organizations provided written responses on the draft Framework. Advice was also received from the Impact Assessment Agency’s Indigenous Advisory Committee and the Assembly of First Nations
Impact Assessment Agency of Canada