Changes on how water is utilized in this country could change with Canada’s plan to implement the UN Declaration of the Right of Indigenous Peoples.
West Coast Environmental Law says a new report penned by themselves and UBC says the requirements laid out in the UN Document will require a more collaborative and proactive process which upholds Indigenous decision-making authority with respect to water.
The report is part of the decolonizing water initiative and examines existing research and the knowledge from leading Indigenous and non-indigenous thinkers to support a dialogue on implementing the UN Declaration with respect to fresh water in this country.
Hannah Askew, staff counsel with West Coast Environmental Law, was the lead author of the report. She says Canada has the opportunity to reset the relationship between the crown and aboriginal peoples in a way that genuinely promotes reconciliation rather than reproducing the harmful approaches to resource management we have seen in the past.
With Canada vowing to implement the declaration and the on-going legal conflicts over Indigenous peoples defending their waters from industrial projects like Site “C” or the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the issues of consultation and consent need to be addressed. Therefore, the matter should be a priority for Ottawa.
The most controversial aspect of the declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples is the on-going issue of free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples who are faced with industrial development. The report found controversy can be derailed early if proponents involved indigenous groups from the beginning instead of going to them at a later date with an after the fact “yes” or “no” to a project.