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Feds release framework for using Indigenous knowledge in project reviews

A new federal framework will be used to assess projects such as mines, dams, and liquefied natural gas facilities.
Parliament Building

The federal government has released the new Indigenous Knowledge Policy Framework for Project Reviews and Regulatory Decisions.

It's the first step in the development of guidance specific to Indigenous knowledge in assessing projects impacting lands and resources, and in the preparation of regulatory decisions.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault made the announcement Sept. 27.

The government said the framework will inform the respectful, consistent and meaningful inclusion and protection of Indigenous knowledge in project reviews and regulatory assessment under the Impact Assessment Act, the Canadian Navigable Rivers Act, and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, as well as the fish and fish habitat protections 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," the government said in a statement.

"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."

Guidance specific to Indigenous knowledge in impact assessment is expected to include best practices for reviewing Indigenous knowledge in project submissions and establishing confidentiality procedures.

Projects that could be affected include dams, mines, and liquefied natural gas facilities.

The government cited the new framework as 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 People.

Last year, the agency received feedback from 79 Indigenous communities and organizations on a draft of the framework. Advice was also received from the agency's Indigenous Advisory Committee and the Assembly of First Nations.