Mining and the Metis: Not a challenge — an opportunity – by Drew Hasselback (Financial Post – March 7, 2017)

Consulting with affected aboriginal groups isn’t just a legal requirement before a mining company begins work on a Canadian property, it’s become a standard business practice.

But where mining companies once might have thought the duty to consult required them to speak with one of Canada’s more than 600 “pre-contact” First Nations groups, recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions confirm they might also need to deal with the Métis people.

“The law is absolutely clear. There’s no room for debate on it. It’s an equal consideration. It’s not anything less,” said lawyer Thomas Isaac, a partner with Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.

In 2015, the federal government asked Isaac, who is recognized as one of Canada’s leading experts in aboriginal law, to map out a process for dialogue between the federal government and the Métis people.

Last June, he presented Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, with his report. Among his 17 recommendations, he said the federal government should amend its laws to ensure that Métis are expressly and distinctly considered in any programs and services it offers to aboriginal peoples.

Isaac will be speaking about the constitutional rights of the Métis at a session on aboriginal law at PDAC on Tuesday morning. “This stuff isn’t necessarily a challenge. Quite frankly, it’s an opportunity,” Isaac said in an interview.

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