Since I started my career in journalism over 15 years ago at Canadian Mining Journal’s sister publication, The Northern Miner, the conversation around Aboriginal rights and mining has changed enormously.
Back in the mid-to-late aughts, conflicts between Indigenous communities and the mining sector centred on the duty to consult and the failure of government and industry to fulfill that duty. Since then, Aboriginal rights have been confirmed in the courts again and again.
And with more guidance on consultation provided by provincial governments, and more recently, the federal government’s commitment to implement UNDRIP (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) into Canadian law, the conversation is now around higher-level participation – including the demand from some communities for Indigenous-led assessment processes.
There have been several Indigenous-led environmental assessments in British Columbia. The outcomes so far have been both positive and negative for industry.