More than a decade after the Supreme Court of Canada released its ground breaking decisions in Haida Nation v British Columbia (Minister of Forests) and Taku River Tlingit First Nation v British Columbia (Project Assessment Director), and 11 years following the Government of Alberta’s original policy on First Nation consultation, the Province has finally released a consultation policy that includes Métis Settlements. The new Policy is modeled closely after the province’s First Nations Consultation Policy and Guidelines.
On March 31, 2016, the Government of Alberta publically released The Government of Alberta’s Policy on Consultation with Metis Settlements on Land and Natural Resource Management, 2015, and The Government of Alberta’s Guidelines on Consultation with Metis Settlements on Land and Natural Resource Management, 2016.
As explained in a previous MLT blog post the provincial Crown, in practice, did not consult with Métis communities nor mandate companies developing projects include Métis communities in their delegated consultation activities. This omission was significant as most energy projects, including those in the oil sands, are provincially regulated.
The new Policy will apply to the eight Métis Settlements created pursuant to Alberta-Metis Settlements Accordand related legislation.
There are however a number of Métis communities in Alberta that are not part of the Métis Settlement regime and are excluded from this new Policy. Richard Feehan, provincial Minister of Indigenous Relations, recently said that it could take more than one year before a consultation policy that includes all Métis communities is in place. Those Métis communities left on the sidelines will no doubt be watching closely.