First Nations Engagement in BC – September 2014 Session – Summary

The EMA hosted a blockbuster speaker session on First Nations engagement at the SFU Harbour Centre campus on September 18, 2014. Expert presentations highlighted the importance of effective engagement of Aboriginal peoples when undertaking major projects in British Columbia, especially in the field of resource development, and reviewed the significance of the recent groundbreaking decision on Aboriginal title in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia. Some 100 members and guests from industry, law and services attended, with most unwilling to leave while engaging in the question period for an additional 30 minutes, before adjourning for appies and one-on-one discussions.   This “Free for Members” special event featured four high profile speakers with special expertise in issues of Aboriginal governance, consultation and engagement. Each of their presentations are available to download below.

Bob Joseph, of Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., provided a spirited discussion on Aboriginal consultation and engagement that included a brief history of constitutional changes and legal precedents followed by practical advice and tips on building successful relationships with Aboriginal peoples. His informative presentation emphasized aboriginal peoples’ expectations of their constitutional rights and title, the importance of obtaining consent from Aboriginal peoples, and how consent is defined in the context of the recent court decision.

Dan Jepsen, of C3 Alliance Corp., highlighted best practices and strategies, as well as hard lessons learned, when engaging Aboriginal peoples and obtaining consent. His extensive experience developing relationships with and negotiating with Aboriginal peoples was gained through much trial and error and his inspiring and sometimes humorous anecdotes highlighted the importance of respecting Aboriginal people’s culture, priorities, timelines, and need for relationship prior to business.

Karey Brooks and Jeff Langlois, of Janes Freedman Kyle Law Corporation, outlined the significance of effective engagement and consultation with Aboriginal peoples in the context of two recent and groundbreaking Supreme Court of Canada decisions on Aboriginal title in the Tsilhqot’in Nation and Grassy Narrows cases. Their succinct presentation clarified the key findings of the law affecting resource development, including the extent and scope of Aboriginal title, the duty to consult, and the role of the Province in establishing laws over the land base, both on treaty and non-treaty lands.

The EMA thanks these engaging speakers for sharing their knowledge with EMA of BC members.

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