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Land Use Studies in Canada

While Traditional Use Studies (TUS) are conducted in many Canadian provinces, a main repository does not exist to keep a record of the various studies. Therefore, it is difficult to know for certain the number of Studies conducted across Canada, as well as the precise timeline. As the need for TUS stemmed from the growing natural resources developments, provinces shared common reasons for conducting the Studies. The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, conducted by Justice Thomas Berger from 1974 to 1977, was the first time a natural resource development project was reviewed by the public before actual construction began. Through numerous public consultations with Aboriginal and Non- Aboriginal communities in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and across Canada, Berger concluded that the environmental impact would be detrimental to the way of life of Aboriginal Peoples and recommended The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Impact Assessment, and subsequent legislation, which set a precedent for new resource development projects in Canada. Over the 20 years, a methodology for conducting Studies emerged.

Due to the fact that TUS involve specific First Nations' communities whose land may not fit prescribed provincial boundaries, some studies involve land from two or more provinces or territories. This is the case in Quebec, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and Manitoba. The only provinces that appear not to have any type of TUS program or initiative are Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management in Canada, National Status 2005 Website (URL: http://www.ccmf.org/ci/rprt2005/English/pg116-142_6-2-1.htm) provides a brief summary of the studies and programs in each province or territory, though it is not complete.

Many First Nations' communities are hesitant to share their TUS for fear the knowledge or data will be misrepresented or misused. Recognizing this, a compilation of the studies that have been conducted would be very useful for public record. As David C. Nahwegahbow writes in Chief Kerry's Moose; a guidebook to land use and occupancy mapping, research design and data collection:

So take heart. The research is worth the effort. Years ago the minister made his challenge, 'Prove it!' And in those days, no logging company ever asked the Algonquins where they could cut. Now they don't cut without asking the permission of the Algonquins.

By allowing elements of TUS to be shared and educating the public on land use and traditional knowledge, Aboriginal Peoples are able to protect and maintain their way of life and traditional lands

Buoyed by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, British Columbia has the largest inventory of TUS in Canada. As of March 2002, 59 TUS had been conducted in BC. The Government of British Columbia has passed several pieces of legislation that outline the relationship between First Nations' communities and the Government (for more information visit http://www.gov.bc.ca/arr/treaty/legislation.html). In BC, TUS are important not just for resource development but also in land claims and treaty negotiations.

Alberta currently has 29 Studies, involving 39 First Nations' communities, underway. In September 2006, Alberta Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (now Alberta Aboriginal Relations) released Alberta's First Nations Consultation Guidelines on Land Management and Resource Development Similar to the Alberta Government, the Province of Saskatchewan released a Draft First Nations and Metis Consultation Policy Framework on December 22, 2008 (for more information on Saskatchewan's Consultation policy visit http://www.fnmr.gov.sk.ca/Consultation-Framework/).

In many Canadian regions, resource development has intensified over the past 50 years, though, clearly, there have been periods of intensive activity since Confederation in 1867. In the case of the Yukon Territory, which is rich in natural resources such as nickel, cobalt, platinum, copper, gold, tin, iron, diamonds, oil, gas, and coal, resources have been exploited at various times beginning with the Yukon Goldrush, beginning in 1897. As has been seen, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in 1974 was the first time public consultation and community involvement occurred before development began. With a relatively small population of just over 30,000, resource development is a significant part of the Yukon's economy. While the Yukon does not have a specific consultation policy, public consultation and community involvement in resource development is followed.

In 2007, the Government of Manitoba developed a Draft Policy and Guidelines for Crown Consultations with Aboriginal Peoples. Similar to that of Alberta and Saskatchewan, this policy outlines the Government's commitment to consultation with First Nations' communities that face resources development (for more information on Manitoba's Consultation policy visit: http://www.gov.mb.ca/ana/crown_consultations.html).

With a large and diverse First Nations' population, the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs produced Draft Guidelines For Ministries On Consultation With Aboriginal Peoples Related To Aboriginal Rights and Treaty Rightsin June of 2006 (for more information visit http://www.aboriginalaffairs.gov.on.ca/english/policy/draftconsult.asp). On the Ministry's website, the New Approach to Aboriginal Affairsis outlined and covers numerous topics to ensure that the Government and First Nations are able to work together with respect to a number of topic areas and concern, as well as land claims and resources development.

In the Northwest Territories, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations has the mandate to manage and co-ordinate the Government's participation in all land, resources and self-government negotiations. With about half of its population being of Aboriginal origin, the important relationship with and the important issues concerning First Nations are recognized (for more information about the Northwest Territories visit http://www.gov.nt.ca/).

The relationship with the land and the needs of those who call the land home is never forgotten in the Nunavut, with a population that is 85 percent Inuit. Premier, Paul Okalik, the first Premier is Inuit. As with the Northwest Territories, though no official consultation policy exists, it is clear that the Inuit are considered in resource and land development. In the case of both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, the large First Nations and Inuit populations may account for the lack of officially documented TUS.

It is encouraging to see that most provincial governments are committed to some means of consultation with First Nations. If governments continue this commitment, future First Nations' generations will be able to live and use the same land their ancestors have for thousands of years.



Kunin, Roslyn, Editor. Prospering Together: The Economic Impact of the
Aboriginal Title Settlements in B.C. Vancouver: The Laurier Institution, 2001.

Nassichuk, W.W., "Forty Years of Northern Non-Renewable Natural Resource
Development" in Canada's Changing North, ed. William C. Wonders, pp. 219-241. Canada: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.

Web Resources

http://www.ccmf.org/ci/rprt2005/English/pg116-142_6-2-1.htm), Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management in Canada,National Status 2005 (accessed on March 11, 2009).

Government of British Columbia Website, http://www.gov.bc.ca/arr/treaty/legislation.html) (accessed on March 11, 2009).

Manitoba Wildlands Website,
http://www.manitobawildlands.org/lup.htm(accessed on March 13, 2009).

Government of Manitoba Website, http://www.gov.mb.ca/ana/crown_consultations.html (accessed on March 11, 2009).

Government of the Northwest Territories Website, http://www.gov.nt.ca/) (accessed on March 11, 2009) (accessed on March 11, 2009).

Government of Nunavut Website, http://www.gov.nu.ca/

Government of Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Website, http://www.aboriginalaffairs.gov.on.ca/english/policy/draftconsult.asp) (accessed on March 11, 2009).

Government of Saskatchewan website,
http://www.fnmr.gov.sk.ca/Consultation-Framework/(accessed on March 11, 2009).

Government of Yukon website, http://www.gov.yk.ca(accessed on March 13, 2009).

World Wild Life Website,http://www.worldwildlife.org/

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