Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is creating regulations for how it consults N.W.T. aboriginal groups about developments in the Mackenzie Valley, but some groups say they're skeptical given their previous experiences with federal government consultations.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development already has some guidelines for aboriginal consultation.
But it says the new regulations would "provide clarity and certainty as to how aboriginal consultation should be conducted in the Mackenzie Valley, specifically . . . in fulfilling the duty to consult and accommodate within the integrated land and water management processes of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act."
During a teleconference with various N.W.T. aboriginal groups in September, Aboriginal Affairs talked about creating the consultation regulations but few details were discussed.
Some groups, however, took the opportunity to chastise the government for its record of consultation on the much-criticized changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, including the creation of a land and water superboard.
Dahti Tsetso, a resource management co-ordinator for the Dehcho First Nations, characterizes the superboard consultations as rushed and inadequate.
"They would schedule these meetings, tell us the changes they were going to make," Tsetso says.
"People would express concerns and they would say, 'OK, we'll make note of that concern.' But there was no real accommodation for people's concerns."
Peter Redvers, a negotiator for the K'atl'odeeche First Nation, says the band is skeptical of the impending regulations given how the superboard consultations were carried out. He says the federal government's September teleconference didn't help matters.
"We haven't gotten off to a good start on that because as part of this consultation process, Canada will be consulting industry," he says.
"[We] and a few others said that if Canada is consulting industry in relation to the aboriginal consultation regulations, that should be made public. That information should be made available to the aboriginal groups so that there isn't this secret side table discussion."
Redvers says, so far, transcripts of discussions with industry groups have not been shared.
The office of the minister of Aboriginal Affairs says it does not comment on consultations.
The first in-person consultation sessions with aboriginal groups about the regulations are scheduled for January. The earliest the regulations could take effect is April 2015.