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More than a year after it was submitted to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, a report by Aboriginal legal expert Bryn Gray on how the Crown could improve its approach to its duty to consult Indigenous peoples has been released.  Mr. Gray was commissioned by the previous government to consult with Indigenous peoples as well as industry and federal officials and provide recommendations. His report acknowledges that some progress has been made, but that much still needs to be done.

Building Relationships and Advancing Reconciliation through Meaningful Consultation shares many of the themes of the Canadian Chamber’s September 2016 report Seizing Six Opportunities for More Clarity the Duty to Consult and Accommodate Process. These include businesses knowing they have an important role to play in consultation regarding their projects but often feeling “caught in the middle” due to unresolved, unrelated issues because the Crown is “missing in action”. Another perspective Mr. Gray and the Canadian Chamber share is that the Crown – and business – need to look at engagement of and consultation with Indigenous peoples as more than boxes to be ticked but as an opportunity to improve relationships amongst themselves and advance reconciliation. We also share the view that capacity building tools for industry, Indigenous peoples and officials need to be improved and that the federal government needs to adopt a whole-of-government approach to consultation including better coordination with the provinces and territories.

Both the Canadian Chamber and Mr. Gray have commended the federal government for its commitment to develop a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples.  However, as Mr. Gray notes in his report “It will not happen by accident or through words alone.  Federal officials need guidance, resources, and oversight to ensure that this does not become yet another unfulfilled promise to Aboriginal peoples.”

The Canadian Chamber hopes that with the perspectives of more than 200 Indigenous representatives and governments; business people and government officials provided through these two reports that the federal government will act on their recommendations.  Doing so will not only be another important step in moving forward on our journey of reconciliation, it will improve Canada’s economic competitiveness.

French version of Bryn Gray’s report.

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