Welcome everyone. We have a very large crowd. I'm glad everyone's here. We are starting a new study, but before we get into the hearing itself, we have a bit of committee business to take care of.
Prior to that, I want to recognize that we are on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people. Part of a process that more and more Canadians are taking part in is recognizing the lands of our original peoples, where we hold public hearings or ceremonies, which is an important part of the process of truth and reconciliation.
Pursuant to order of reference on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, we are going to be discussing Bill , an act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Before we get into presentations, I would ask the committee to have a look at the budget. We need to approve $1,700 to complete our lands study. It is moved by Mike and seconded by Gary that we approve it.
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: Thank you.
We have a full agenda, and we have many experts in the room. We want to hear from you. Many Canadians are interested in the topic, especially one of our members, Romeo Saganash, who is the presenter of the bill and is bringing it forward for Canada.
We are going to start with the Department of Justice. We have two representatives. The way it works is that you'll present for 10 minutes, then we will move to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, then to Canadian Heritage. Each group will have 10 minutes, after which we will go into rounds of questioning.
Thank you very much for your attention. We're going to start with the Department of Justice. We have Ana Stuhec and Stefan Matiation.
Before I begin, I would like to recognize the Algonquin Nation on whose traditional territory we are gathering.
We would like to thank the committee for inviting the Department of Justice to appear today with respect to this private member's bill, Bill . As you know, in May 2016, the federal government expressed its unqualified support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and committed to its full implementation, in partnership with indigenous peoples.
Since then, the government has taken many steps toward implementing the UN declaration, which have been highlighted on various occasions by the as being a necessary component of the transformation that the federal government wishes to undertake in renewing its relationship with indigenous peoples.
Establishing the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws, Policies and Operational Practices Related to Indigenous Peoples was a key step in this process.
In announcing the creation of the working group in February 2017, the indicated that its objective is to seek to ensure that the crown is meeting its constitutional obligations with respect to aboriginal and treaty rights, adhering to international human rights standards, including the United Nations Declaration, and supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.
Further, in July 2017 the Government of Canada adopted and publicly released “Principles Respecting the Government of Canada's Relationship With Indigenous Peoples”. The principles are rooted in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the UN declaration, and are informed by the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. The principles, as well as the UN declaration, guide the review of the laws, policies, and operational practices and form a foundation for transforming how the federal government supports indigenous peoples and governments.
In carrying out its mandate, the working group has also heard from many indigenous leaders and organizations about their vision for how Canada should adopt and implement the UN declaration in full partnership with indigenous peoples. As explained by the when she announced the government's support for Bill in November 2017, this bill broadly aligns with the government's commitment to implement the UN declaration and its commitment to transform the crown-indigenous relationship. It represents one critical aspect of the shift that must be made to transform indigenous-crown relations based on the recognition and implementation of indigenous rights.
Bill calls for the alignment of federal laws with the UN declaration. The bill's proposed approach, similar to the approach taken to date by the federal government, reflects an acknowledgement of the need to implement the UN declaration in co-operation and collaboration with indigenous peoples through a range of diverse measures, including legislative policy and administrative measures. The nature, scope, and type of approach taken in specific areas will necessarily vary.
The bill also reflects article 38 of the United Nations Declaration, which states the following:
||States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration.
For this reason, and as many have observed, the bill alone will not accomplish the full implementation of the United Nations Declaration. A comprehensive approach including additional efforts and measures to implement the United Nations Declaration is needed.
On February 14, 2018, the federal government took additional steps to advance this implementation. The delivered a statement on the recognition and implementation of indigenous rights in the House of Commons that confirmed the shift to a recognition of a rights-based approach to relations with indigenous peoples and committed to the development of new legislation and policy through a new recognition and implementation of rights framework.
The measures proposed in Bill , as well as the important discussion the bill will generate before this committee and across the country, are part of accelerating the shift to recognition of rights-based relationships.
Madam Chair, we look forward to answering questions from members of the committee on this private member's bill, Bill . Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good afternoon, everyone.
I would like to start by acknowledging that we are meeting here on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
Thank you very much for the invitation to speak today on Bill . I will be focusing my comments on giving an update on the Government of Canada's efforts to ensure we're not hindering the implementation of indigenous rights, which include work to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. At its core, the declaration affirms that indigenous peoples have the right to live, develop, and thrive according to their unique circumstances and priorities, that is, to determine their futures for themselves.
We've long worked to advance self-determination and improve indigenous well-being. For over 30 years now, there have been efforts driven by and grounded in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which section recognizes and affirms indigenous rights.
For example, the ongoing negotiation of modern treaties and self-government agreements advances the implementation of articles 3, 4 and 5 of the United Nations Declaration, which affirm the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination and self-government.
Since 2015 we have also been engaged in recognition of indigenous rights and self-determination discussions. Through these discussions we have sat down with indigenous groups based on how they want to organize themselves and start from a place of recognizing their rights. We have ongoing rights recognition discussions with communities, tribal councils, historic treaty groups, and Métis organizations, as well as other community-based organizations that are coming together to rebuild their nations on their terms.
Through these discussions we are exploring shared priorities that our indigenous partners raise. We come to the table without predetermined mandates and we work together to chart a path forward to achieving the outcomes that matter to indigenous communities. We are striving to build flexible arrangements, support indigenous communities in achieving self-determination on their terms that can evolve along with our relationships. Through this innovative process we are living out our commitment to co-development, which is reflected in article 18's declaration that indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making about matters affecting their rights through their own representatives.
Working with self-determined groups to advance shared priorities, including nation building and governance, also responds to articles 3 and 9, which assert the rights of indigenous peoples to determine and belong to their own communities, nations, and political entities.
The declaration also makes repeated calls to respect the principle of free, prior and informed consent when making decisions that affect indigenous peoples.
Consistent with these calls, both section 35 and the duty to consult serve to protect indigenous rights from crown action, and reconcile the rights of indigenous peoples with those of wider society.
We still have work to do to implement the full scope of free, prior, and informed consent. Canada has established a whole-of-government approach to these obligations in response to court decisions and best practices established by federal departments and agencies to meet their specific needs.
These are just a few examples of the many ways that our work has been advancing and continues to advance the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
More recently, the Government of Canada has taken bold new steps to lead collaborative efforts that support indigenous peoples' treaty rights and their inherent rights as recognized in section 35, while also meeting the objectives outlined in the UN declaration.
On February 14, the announced that the Government of Canada will develop a recognition and implementation of indigenous rights framework in full partnership with first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
To truly renew the relationship between Canada and indigenous people, the Government of Canada will make the recognition and implementation of rights the basis for all relations between indigenous peoples and the federal government.
This is at the heart of what the UN declaration aims to achieve, and the declaration is a foundational piece upon which we build the framework. While our work to date has gone considerable distances toward implementing elements of the declaration, we know that more work is required. The framework for the recognition and implementation of indigenous rights will provide the mechanisms necessary for all federal departments to fulfill the commitment to recognizing and implementing rights, facilitating a whole-of-government approach grounded in law and policy.
To determine the contents of the framework, is leading a national engagement with first nations, Inuit, and Métis partners with a particular focus on women, youth, and elders. The engagement will also include industry, the general public, and our provincial and territorial partners to support a pan-Canadian commitment to the recognition and implementation of indigenous rights.
Make no mistake though, our partners in this process are the rights holders, not the stakeholders.
We will work in partnership with indigenous peoples to determine the shape of a renewed crown-indigenous relationship.
Through this process we are putting into practice Bill 's call to work in consultation and co-operation with indigenous peoples to implement their rights in Canadian law. What we are learning through engagement also builds on existing sources of knowledge such as the Report of the Royal Commission on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Penner report, and the tireless work of many indigenous advocates.
To use the language of Bill , this is our “national action plan” for advancing indigenous rights and achieving the objectives of the declaration. Based on early feedback, the recognition and implementation of an indigenous rights framework may include a number of elements such as: legislation to formalize the standard of recognition of indigenous rights as the basis for all government relations with indigenous people; a new policy that reflects the unique needs of first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples to replace the current comprehensive land claims policy and the inherent right policy; reforming government policies and practices to support the implementation of treaties and self-government agreements; mechanisms to support the rebuilding of indigenous nations and governments and advance indigenous self-determination and the inherent right of self-government; creating new dispute resolution approaches to address rights-related issues, including overlapping territories, treaty implementation, and historic grievances, that move us from conflict to collaboration; tools to strengthen a culture of federal government accountability and to build greater trust between indigenous peoples and the federal government; and legislation to replace Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada with two new departments that will better serve the distinct needs of first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
These likely components represent preliminary thinking on what shape the framework will take but respond directly to key elements of the declaration. The goal is to chart a new way forward for the Government of Canada to work with first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and to end decades of mistrust, broken promises, poverty, and injustice.
Working together with first nations, Inuit, and Métis partners to define how we recognize and implement indigenous rights in federal law and policy is vital to overcoming the legacy of colonialism and rebuilding indigenous nations and governments. This transformative shift in our relationship will not happen overnight. We are working towards a longer-term vision for a better Canada in which healthy, prosperous, self-determining, and self-governing indigenous nations are key partners.
This goal is echoed in Bill , which will support us on the road to making the vision of the UN declaration a reality and fulfilling the promise of section 35.
We are committed to delivering real results that improve indigenous well-being and bring Canadians together in a more just society, so that we can continue on in our journey towards reconciliation.
I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I also wish to begin by acknowledging that we're on the ancestral lands of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg. We thank the committee for the invitation to Canadian Heritage to provide information on Bill .
My brief remarks will describe how currently Canadian Heritage addresses initiatives that align with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I will address indigenous languages which is raised in article 13 of the declaration, then cultural heritage issues as it relates in particular to articles 11 and 12.
In December 2016, before the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly, the committed the government to enacting legislation to preserve, promote and revitalize indigenous languages. The Prime Minister also stated that the legislation would be developed jointly with indigenous peoples.
In June 2017, joined National Chief Bellegarde from the Assembly of First Nations, President Obed from the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and President Chartier from the Métis National Council in announcing the launch of a process to co-develop this legislation.
Since that time, the four parties have been working diligently and collaboratively on the co-development of the legislation. I would like to add that those groups are not the only ones that will be consulted, of course. All rights holders will be included in the consultations.
By helping preserve and restore indigenous languages, Canadian Heritage is following through on the government's commitment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action in the spirit of reconciliation.
On the financial programming side of things, Canadian Heritage delivers the aboriginal language initiative. That component supports community-based, indigenous-led projects that focus on the revitalization, preservation and promotion of indigenous languages. The component's resources were increased from $5 million to $19 million in Budget 2017. Canadian Heritage also delivers a program component called northern aboriginal broadcasting, the purpose of which echoes article 16 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Articles 11 and 12 of the declaration include issues of access, preservation, and repatriation of cultural property and human remains, particularly those that are in the possession of the state. Currently, Canadian Heritage provides financial support to indigenous communities and eligible Canadian museums to assist communities to access, preserve, and transmit their heritage to future generations.
A modest amount of funding is also available to support such repatriation activities. The department is working on revising details of its funding programs in order to better address the needs related to repatriation to indigenous communities, for example, by expanding the kinds of institutions that are eligible under our program and by including different kinds of eligible expenses. Repatriation from public collections such as the national museums is undertaken directly by those institutions that operate at arm's length from the government.
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission call to action 67, also in relation to this issue, the Department of Heritage is providing funding to the Canadian Museums Association to undertake, in collaboration with aboriginal peoples, a national review of museum policies and best practices to determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration and to make recommendations.
This concludes my remarks.
Certainly, from my perspective and from that of many of the first nations communities, there is a very clear interpretation of what consent means. I would suggest that perhaps Pam Palmater is right.
My next area is that this will apply to laws of general application, plus obviously there are significant areas in terms of natural resource development and land use.
In terms of laws of general application, I would take, perhaps, Bill , which is the marijuana legislation. How would you get FPIC—free, prior, and informed consent? If we're going to put it into the law, how are we going to get free, prior, and informed consent?
Clearly, in my opinion, the marijuana legislation is going to affect first nations communities as per laws of general application. The minister has indicated that it applies to laws of general application.
As a department, how are you going to get free, prior, and informed consent for something like Bill ? Because you don't have that right now.
Senator Patterson was just in the north. They're very concerned. They said they had no consultation around Bill . Perhaps you could talk about how you are going to get free, prior, and informed consent from Inuit, Métis, and the very diverse first nations across the country.
I would say that, along with languages, culture, traditional systems of decision-making, and governance, more and more the discussions around revitalizing traditional systems of indigenous law and understanding those systems are definitely at the heart of a lot of the conversations that we are having, across the country at various tables. We are looking at different concepts around self-determination and how different communities are seeing that, as well as self-government.
There's certainly work going on in different parts of the country that is looking at some of it. What I try to get to is, our agreements that we enter into with indigenous governments and nations really should be seen as bridges between their indigenous perspective, culture, language, systems of governance, decision-making, and law, and Canada's, at the federal level.
If we're going to have agreements that truly work as bridges between these systems, then it's important that we take the necessary steps to help indigenous communities and nations that have to overcome the 150-plus years of colonialism to actually understand what those concepts mean for them in today's world.
There are many who do. I don't want to suggest, in any way, shape, or form, that no indigenous nation actually understands those things. Many understand in profound ways, but many are struggling to recapture a lot of things that have been lost, damaged, and harmed through the legacies of assimilative practices that governments have adopted over many decades.
There is work going on. There are law schools in the country that are working closely with communities to help, looking at revitalizing and actually memorializing in writing what their systems of law actually are. Then we're looking at those to figure out how to have an agreement, as we're looking at self-government, that can work within that system of law, as well as our own.
I think that these are really important pieces of work.
I'd like to acknowledge that we are here today on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
My name is Dominique Blanchard. I am the assistant deputy minister of the public and indigenous affairs and ministerial services branch at Environment and Climate Change Canada. I am joined today by my colleague Brent Parker, who is from the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency.
Thank you to the committee for inviting my department to contribute to this session on the subject of Bill . In my remarks today, I will discuss the actions of Environment and Climate Change Canada in advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples and in working toward fulfilling the government's commitment to adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I will address the work already under way as well as the opportunities we see to further enhance relationships between my department and indigenous peoples and governments.
Indigenous peoples are leaders in conservation. They have long been stewards of the environment and have well established rights related to the use of the land, waters, ice and wildlife. They have knowledge of the environment that spans generations.
The mandate of Environment and Climate Change Canada is to protect the environment and to conserve the country's national heritage. We undertake weather forecasting; wildlife conservation; air and water quality monitoring and protection; water quantity monitoring for informed water management decisions; and, oversee and contribute to measures that mitigate against and adapt to climate change.
Accordingly, it is critically important for Environment and Climate Change Canada to maintain and build strong and positive relationships and partnerships with indigenous peoples, and to collaborate in defining our environmental future. This is a responsibility that extends to each and every part of our department.
We have a history of establishing and supporting partnerships that enable us to reflect the perspectives of indigenous peoples in the delivery of our mandate. We are proud of recent efforts we have made to expand and deepen those relationships at local, regional, national, and international levels. For example, we have established joint distinctions-based senior bilateral tables to support nation-to-nation, Inuit-to-crown, and government-to-government relationships to assist with the implementation of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. We work with indigenous peoples on projects to support the stewardship of natural resources, including through, for example, the co-management of conservation areas, wildlife management boards, and indigenous-led projects supported by the aboriginal fund for species at risk.
At the international level, Canada has been recognized for its leadership in advancing the local communities and indigenous peoples platform under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Indigenous peoples have joined us in representing Canada on the delegations for this and other international fora, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
We're also establishing countless partnerships at the local and regional levels. For instance, the Canadian ice service is partnering with Inuit communities to understand sea ice information needs in light of changing ice patterns in the north. We are collaborating with first nations on a project to develop training curricula related to environmental monitoring. We are also supporting indigenous-led efforts to address environmental challenges affecting the Great Lakes.
Finally, we and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, along with other federal partners here at the table, worked closely with indigenous partners in developing the recently tabled Bill , which proposes important requirements concerning the engagement of indigenous peoples in the environmental review process and the use of traditional knowledge to inform decision-making.
Sustaining and enhancing partnerships of this nature, and supporting the broader work being done across government to advance reconciliation, has required Environment and Climate Change Canada to look internally, as well.
In May of last year, our department created a new branch, which I lead. Part of our mandate involves bringing cohesion and organization to the department's indigenous affairs and reconciliation activities, and bringing to ground broader government efforts in these areas within our department.
In this vein, we're developing governance structures to ensure effective cross-departmental collaboration, developing tools to support broader engagement and consultation with indigenous partners, and implementing training and awareness opportunities to develop the intercultural competencies of our employees.
We are also working closely with many of the colleagues you have heard from and will be hearing from today in implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action, the principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with indigenous people and, relevant to our discussion today, the United Nations declaration.
In our view, working towards aligning our work with the provisions of the UN declaration presents an opportunity for us to build trust with our indigenous partners; enhance the integrity of our policy-making, research, and analysis; and achieve better environmental outcomes for all Canadians. Several articles in the UN declaration are tied closely to our mandate in that they reflect indigenous people's rights concerning the stewardship of the environment. For example, article 24 speaks to rights related to conservation of medicines, plants, animals, and minerals. Article 31 relates to the maintenance and manifestation of traditional knowledge, including in relation to flora and fauna. Importantly, article 32 confirms the rights of indigenous peoples to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development and use of their lands and resources.
In regard to these articles, Environment and Climate Change Canada is well situated to build upon existing practices and relationships. Through our engagement in the negotiation of treaties and other arrangements, ECCC works with indigenous partners to collaboratively conserve and protect wildlife and other environmental resources. Also, as a science-based department, we are working to ensure that traditional knowledge informs our work, and we are reviewing and refining our approach that freely shared traditional knowledge can better complement contemporary scientific research to inform decision-making. Lastly, we're working to build transparent and comprehensive engagement processes that respect the rights of indigenous peoples in determining how lands and resources are used.
Environment and Climate Change Canada recognizes that there is more to be done. This will involve the continued examination of our contribution to the government's reconciliation agenda, including the implementation of the United Nations Declaration. This will mean further strengthening our engagement with indigenous partners, and assessing new opportunities to align departmental programs, policies, laws and regulations with indigenous rights and interests. And we will need to do more work internally to build greater awareness amongst our employees of indigenous rights and interests, and of our related responsibilities.
In closing, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to highlight some of the efforts under way at Environment and Climate Change Canada to move forward on our commitment to support reconciliation with indigenous peoples, including through the implementation of the UN declaration. As a department, we are steadfastly committed to this important work.
I would also like to acknowledge our presence on the unceded territory of the Algonquin peoples.
I would like to thank the chair, vice-chairs, and committee members for the invitation to speak to you today to support your study of Bill and for the opportunity to elaborate on the suite of programs, policies, and legislative initiatives under the purview of the that have made and will continue to make advances toward reconciliation with the indigenous peoples of Canada.
I am Robert Lamirande, the director of indigenous affairs and reconciliation directorate at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. I would like to introduce my colleague, Marc Sanderson, acting director general, national strategies of the Canadian Coast Guard.
My directorate is responsible for providing policy advice on indigenous fishing and other matters toward advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples; negotiating and implementing program, treaty, and other constructive agreements on Fisheries and Oceans management; promoting fisheries-related economic opportunities through programming to support indigenous capacity to fish safely and effectively; and building relationships and partnerships with indigenous communities through effective engagements, which we do hand in hand with the national strategies directorate of the Canadian Coast Guard.
We do this work because the sustainable use of the fishery resource, the protection of fish and fish habitat, the conservation and management of our oceans, and the safety of those on the water are a priority for the department—a priority held in common with indigenous communities.
And because Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard have presence in many coastal and rural communities across Canada, we have worked hard with indigenous communities and groups to collaborate and partner on all aspects of our operations. These relationships are comprehensive, complex and dynamic. They are adaptive to the capacity of each indigenous community or group to participate in economic opportunities and in co-management.
We are now on a clearer path to a renewed, nation-to-nation, crown-Inuit, and government-to-government relationship, one that builds on the relationships and partnerships developed over the past decades. These relationships with indigenous communities are the touchpoints through which we will collaborate to articulate what reconciliation means in the context of Minister LeBlanc's portfolio.
This includes those changes to programs, policies, and laws necessary to demonstrate that we are moving to reconciliation with indigenous peoples. This commitment to reconciliation is guided by the principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples. These principles, as you know, are themselves guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.
I want to highlight for you how Fisheries and Oceans Canada has worked in collaboration and in partnership with many indigenous communities. Through the innovative and successful Atlantic and Pacific integrated commercial fisheries initiatives, Fisheries and Oceans Canada provides commercial fisheries access, business management capacity, and training needed to build self-sustaining, indigenous-owned and -operated commercial fishing enterprises.
Through the aboriginal fisheries strategy and the aboriginal aquatic resource and oceans management programs, Fisheries and Oceans Canada helps indigenous groups acquire the scientific and technical capacity, means, and training to meaningfully participate in fisheries, oceans, and habitat collaborative management, including employing aboriginal fisheries guardians.
Budget 2017, a year ago, has taken these programs a major step forward, investing over $250 million over five years and $62 million ongoing annually. This includes ongoing funding for the Atlantic and Pacific integrated fisheries initiatives and northern expansion through a new northern integrated commercial fisheries initiative.
As we embark on the renewal of these programs, we are also undertaking a review to see where and how these programs can be strengthened in collaboration with the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute, a technical organization established in May 2017 whose board is made up of experts from national and regional indigenous organizations. The institute is enabling the co-development, co-design, and co-delivery of our indigenous programs.
However, working collaboratively and in partnership with indigenous communities is not focused solely on fisheries.
The Oceans Protection Plan, for example, is enabling indigenous communities and groups to meaningfully participate and partner in Canada's marine safety system, from waterways management to emergency preparedness and response.
We are working with indigenous communities and partners to create a new indigenous chapter of the Coast Guard Auxiliary in British Columbia. And discussions with other indigenous communities are exploring opportunities to establish additional auxiliary units in the Arctic and in British Columbia to bolster responses to emergencies and pollution incidents.
A national strategy on abandoned and wrecked vessels will build an inventory of the problem vessels, and a risk assessment methodology. Indigenous communities will be invited to participate in these assessments and to help prioritize interventions.
Through engagement with indigenous communities in British Columbia, the Canadian Coast Guard has launched an environmental response officer recruitment program. We are also nearing completion of a process to recruit Inuit students for a new rescue boat station in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
Ongoing training programs across the country will provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience to enable them to play a greater role in marine safety in their communities in a safe and effective manner.
As you know, reconciliation also means self-determination of indigenous communities often but not exclusively through negotiation and implementation of treaties. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is participating in over 40 active rights reconciliation self-government negotiations with indigenous communities on fisheries and oceans matters.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also making systemic changes to better enable collaborative partnerships with indigenous peoples, and we have done so through important proposed legislative changes: Bill ; Bill ; and Bill . Proposed amendments to the Oceans Act will strengthen, among other things, the ability to designate marine protected areas on an interim basis and, as with all marine protected area designations, partnering with indigenous communities is the foundation for the successful protection of these unique aquatic ecosystems.
The proposed , under the , with the and the Canadian Coast Guard, would enable, among other things, agreements with a government, council, or other entity authorized to act on behalf of an indigenous group to exercise the powers and perform certain duties or functions of the minister.
The proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act and the programs enabled by these changes include certain amendments specifically aimed at advancing reconciliation, including new tools to enhance opportunities for partnering with indigenous peoples in the conservation and protection of fish, fish habitats, and shorelines; and amended provisions to enable agreements with indigenous governing bodies and any body, including a co-management body, established under a land claims agreement, to further the purpose of the act. Such agreements could enable the declaration of the law of an indigenous governing body, including a bylaw, to be equivalent in effect to a regulation under the Fisheries Act.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard have advanced and will continue to advance reconciliation through concrete changes to programs, operational practices, and legislative frameworks that give voice to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As we move forward we will seize on the relationships and partnerships we have with indigenous communities to articulate renewed nation-to-nation relationships with indigenous peoples within the mandates of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard.
Good afternoon, and thank you for your attention.
I, like my colleagues, wish to acknowledge that we are meeting today on unceded Algonquin territory.
Thank you for the invitation to speak today to support your study of Bill .
My name is Genevieve Carr. I am the acting director general of indigenous policy and coordination, a new unit in the Department of Natural Resources, which reports directly to the deputy minister and which was formed to support efforts to foster reconciliation with Canada's indigenous peoples.
I wish to acknowledge my colleague, who has joined me today, Mr. Terry Hubbard, who is the director general of the petroleum resources branch in the energy sector of Natural Resources Canada.
My remarks today will focus on some the areas where Natural Resources Canada is working to proactively ensure that our policies, programs and legislation align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
My department is transforming its internal operations and culture, reviewing its policies and practices, and working across government to align with the principles, norms and standards of the United Nations Declaration.
We support —I should note there is no relation, despite our shared last name—in his role as a member of the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples. We work closely with our colleagues across government to support horizontal engagement and policy initiatives, such as the permanent bilateral mechanisms established with national Inuit, first nations, and Métis organizations, federal responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action, and the recently launched engagement of a recognition and implementation of rights framework.
We are also advancing corporate change within our organization to increase cultural competencies of all staff within the department, and we are helping to transform the department so that it can become an employer of choice for indigenous Canadians.
Natural Resources Canada is changing how we work and partner with indigenous peoples, placing emphasis on creating lasting relationships that respect and recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. Examples include the department's Generation Energy dialogue on the shift to a low-carbon future, which was heavily shaped by its engagement with and perspective of indigenous peoples from across Canada.
This engagement is ongoing as the vision that grew from Generation Energy moves to being implemented. NRCan is driving inclusion of indigenous leadership in federal, provincial, and territorial fora, such as the Energy and Mines Ministers' Conference, and the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, as well as international trade delegations to facilitate with jurisdictions that control many of the levers for resource development. The geo-mapping for energy and minerals program is another example that has allocated close to $1 million to northern indigenous organizations to develop tools and capacity to integrate science knowledge into decision-making by northerners, for northerners.
Natural Resources Canada is also taking measures to support self-determination through full and fair opportunities to indigenous peoples to participate in the natural resources economy. Some examples include the establishment of an economic pathways partnership to make it easier for indigenous groups potentially impacted by major pipeline projects to access existing federal programs, and help support job training and business opportunities. The indigenous forestry initiative supports forest-based indigenous economic development across Canada. This year it will provide over $2.5 million to indigenous communities and organizations for capacity and business development. The IFI is exploring options to move toward a shared governance model with indigenous peoples.
The green jobs science and technology internship program is starting to take action to target career-stream jobs for indigenous youth, recognizing the importance of opportunities for indigenous youth employment in the natural resources sector.
The interim approach for major project reviews allowed my department to enhance public and indigenous participation in projects undergoing reviews by the National Energy Board. As part of the interim approach, appointed a three-person panel, one member of which was indigenous, specifically to create opportunities to share views not already heard by government on the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline project. Enhanced indigenous engagement through the review process led to an $86-million federal investment to establish and co-develop two indigenous advisory and monitoring committees for National Energy Board-regulated pipelines. These committees are now actively working with the National Energy Board as projects move to construction. They're an important example of how co-development can advance shared goals of safety and protection of environmental and indigenous interests for federally regulated projects.
Lastly, my department is changing laws and policies to entrench a new way of doing business, both for government and for the private sector that has an interest in developing Canada's resources. The active participation of first nations, Inuit, and Métis organizations and communities from across Canada was key to our efforts to modernize the National Energy Board, given concerns around the nature and process of indigenous peoples' participation in the regulation of pipelines under federal jurisdiction.
To note, two of the five members of the NEB modernization expert panel were indigenous. Appointed by , the panel was tasked with conducting a targeted review of the board's structure, role, and mandate. Natural Resources Canada provided a total of $4 million in participant funding to 157 indigenous groups over a two-year period, to provide capacity for those groups to participate in the NEB modernization review.
Our experiences through the interim period, and the lessons learned through the NEB modernization process, were critical to shaping the proposal for a new Canadian energy regulator that was tabled as part of Bill last month in Parliament. The Canadian energy regulator, CER, will help oversee a strong, safe, and sustainable Canadian energy sector as we transition to a low-carbon economy. The regulator will conduct reviews that are more open, accessible, inclusive, and transparent. This will give communities and indigenous peoples a greater voice in their future.
I have provided a brief overview of some of the work my department is undertaking to align with the United Nations Declaration and have focused my remarks on: internal corporate changes and support to whole-of-government priorities; changes in how we partner externally to build meaningful relationships and create space for full and fair access to economic opportunities; the application of lessons and experiences from the last two years to propose new legislation for energy regulation in Canada.
This government set a new path for its relationship with its indigenous peoples in Canada, and our work is not done. We will continue to work closely with other departments on programs, policies, and initiatives that are aligned with the key principles of the declaration. We will also continue to support self-determination and engagement through programming that develops the capacity of indigenous peoples to participate in the natural resources sector and leverage that wealth creation to support their own priorities. We will continue to work closely with indigenous peoples to advance policies, programs, and regulations, including approaches to consider and protect indigenous knowledge in federally regulated energy project reviews; outline expectations for early engagement, planning, and roles for monitoring and oversight; enter into collaboration agreements on project reviews; and ensure we have appropriate indigenous representation on boards and panels.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to get right to it because with my past experience in the committees I sit on and caucuses, I'm very happy about this whole process. Not only with UNDRIP and setting the culture and setting the principles as the PM has done in the past year or so, if not longer, but also with Mr. Saganash with the direction he's taken with his private member's bill . I want to congratulate him for that because it does accelerate the process, as was mentioned earlier.
Having said that, now it's time to accelerate the process, to look at education, which I think is first and foremost. When I say education, I don't mean education of the indigenous community, I mean educating us, government and the general public: understanding, establishing, pursuing, and then of course recognizing the outcomes.
The second part of that is putting strategies, the blueprint, in place. How we're going to operate, move forward nation-to-nation, and with that, establishing that strategy, the objectives, the action plans attached to those objectives and then of course most importantly, executing those action plans.
Third, as you mentioned earlier, is the alignment based on that culture.
We have the Department of Fisheries, the Department of Transport, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Justice. Who is going to facilitate the strategy and therefore establish the outcomes, attach the action plans, and then execute them? We know at the upper levels of government—federal, provincial and territorial—that sometimes things go awry because there's no intergovernmental facilitation.
This is the most important part, establishing that success, and of course the ultimate outcomes. Who is going to facilitate it? The next step is the blueprint, the strategy. Who is going to be the steward? Therefore having this become a reality versus just a culture.
That question is to all of you. Good luck.