Aboriginal Peoples and Land-use Planning
Contributions by First Nations and Métis community members through aboriginal consultations and stakeholder, municipality and public consultations, and through Regional Advisory Councils, inform the development of the Land-use Framework and regional plans:
Aboriginal Input on the Provincial Land-use Framework Initiative Report (2006)
Input and advice was gathered over a period of several months through focus sessions from a broad spectrum of stakeholders and from members of First Nations, the Métis Settlement General Council and the Métis Nation of Alberta.
Response to Aboriginal Consultation on the Draft Alberta Land-use Framework 2008 (2009)
Provides a high-level summary of input heard during meetings with aboriginal communities based on five themes: participation in land-use planning; consultation, rights and legal consideration; land-use planning and traditional use; environmental and social outcomes; and development of cumulative effects management thresholds.
Lower Athabasca Regional Advisory Council Advice to the Government of Alberta (2010)
On June 1, 2009, members from Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 took seats on the Lower Athabasca Regional Advisory Council joining the Métis Settlement member. The council provided recommendations on economic growth, land conservation, air and water thresholds, and human development needs including developing formal roles and responsibilities for aboriginal peoples in land-use planning to achieve regional objectives.
Response to Aboriginal Consultation on the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (2013)
Input and advice was gathered from members of First Nations, Métis Settlements and the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) regions and locals from December 2008 through June 2011 during the Lower Athabasca regional planning process. This input, along with detailed submissions from a number of First Nations communities, informed the Government of Alberta in the development of LARP and reflected in the approved plan.
South Saskatchewan Regional Advisory Council Advice to the Government of Alberta (2011)
The South Saskatchewan Regional Advisory Council had a member from Treaty 7 First Nations. The Council identified eight strategic land-use principles including the following principle: First Nations’ land-use issues need to be dealt with in a clear, provincial government-led process.
Aboriginal Input on the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP)
Input and advice was gathered from members of First Nations and Métis organizations through aboriginal consultations and through public and stakeholder consultations to inform the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. The report will be available in 2015.
Inclusion of Aboriginal Peoples in Land-use Planning
Alberta recognizes those First Nations and Métis communities that hold constitutionally protected rights are uniquely positioned to inform land-use planning. Consulting aboriginal communities on regional planning, particularly those aspects that have the potential to adversely impact their constitutionally protected rights, and reconciling interests are essential to achieving the regional vision.
Aboriginal culture, with its connection to the land and environment, provides a unique opportunity for engagement in land planning, conservation, recreation and tourism initiatives.
Within a framework of respecting heritage and natural spaces and ensuring sustainable efforts will benefit future generations, engagement of Alberta’s aboriginal communities presents opportunities to achieve lasting partnerships while providing opportunities for employment, careers and increased economic activities.
As such, the Government of Alberta will look for opportunities to engage these communities and invite them to share their traditional ecological knowledge to inform land and natural resource planning in this region. For example, the regional parks plan for the Lower Athabasca Region will explore and present potential new approaches to draw on the rich cultural, ecological and historical knowledge and stewardship practices of these communities into planning for new and existing parks within the provincial parks system.
- Excerpts from Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (2012) -
To support meaningful consultation in the province, Cabinet approved The Government of Alberta’s First Nations Consultation Policy on Land Management and Resource Development in 2005. This policy is a key step towards engaging First Nations in land management decision-making. Ongoing review and monitoring of the policy with the intent of changing and improving it will ensure that it meets the needs of Albertans, First Nations and industry.
Aboriginal Peoples and the Land-use Framework
The Land-use Framework expresses government’s commitment to consult with aboriginal communities whose constitutionally protected rights have the potential to be adversely impacted by provincial land-use planning decisions. The Land-use Framework defines aboriginal peoples in Alberta as including the First Nations and Métis peoples and recognizes that those communities that hold constitutionally protected rights are uniquely positioned to inform land-use planning. Aboriginal communities have been involved in the Land-use Framework (2008) from the beginning, including in the drafting of the framework.
Aboriginal Peoples and the Alberta Land Stewardship Act
The enactment itself of the Alberta Land Stewardship Act and consequential amendments is not intended to, and in Alberta’s view does not, have a potential adverse impact on the constitutionally protected rights of aboriginal communities.
Aboriginal Involvement in Regional Planning
Aboriginal consultation is critical to the success of the plan and is conducted in an ongoing and continuous fashion throughout the planning process. Contributions by First Nations and Métis communities are made as representatives attending aboriginal consultation sessions, as Albertans attending public consultations sessions or completing workbooks, and/or as representatives on Regional Advisory Councils.
The Lower Athabasca Regional Advisory Council had members from the Athabasca Tribal Council, Métis Settlements and Treaty 6 First Nations. The South Saskatchewan Regional Advisory Council had a member from Treaty 7 First Nations. Government will be asking for aboriginal perspectives to be represented on future RACs.
Lower Athabasca Regional Plan Objective and Strategies
During drafting of Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP), the government conducted more than 100 meetings with 21 First Nations and nine Métis groups. The final plan reflects the value of this involvement as it sets out the following objective in order to achieve the desired outcome of the inclusion of aboriginal peoples in land-use planning:
To encourage aboriginal peoples' participation in land-use planning and input to decision-making in recognition of the cultural and economic importance of land use to those aboriginal communities with constitutionally protected rights. This will provide both aboriginal communities and the Government of Alberta with a basis for better addressing current and potential land-use conflicts, in a manner supportive of aboriginal traditional uses, such as the exercise of treaty rights.
Six strategies, including continued consultation with aboriginal peoples, will help realize this desired outcome and objective of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan. As a means of assessing whether regional outcomes and objective are being achieved, supporting indicators will be regularly monitored, evaluated and reported.
- Based on excerpts from Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (2012) -
Scientific data and traditional ecological knowledge are needed to inform land and natural resource planning and decision-making as well as monitoring, evaluation and reporting systems as part of a cycle of continuous improvement.
Traditional knowledge is the growing body of knowledge and beliefs handed down through generations about the relationship of living things (including humans) with one another and their environment. Traditional ecological knowledge is place-based knowledge where people learn to adapt to their own environment through interactions, observations and experiences with their ecological system.
Efforts to help involve First Nations and Métis communities in land-use planning have been underway for several years. Programs like the Indigenous Consultation Capacity Program provide all Indigenous communities who participate in Alberta’s consultation process an annual core funding allotment to assist with consultation-related activities regarding land / natural resource management. By investing in the gathering and maintenance of information on First Nations land uses, Alberta has also helped prepare First Nations for increased dialogue in regional planning.