Duty to Consult and Accommodate evolves yet again…
By Clara MacCallum Fraser and David J. Stinson
On a sunny June morning, about 30 people mostly from the local region gathered in the Grey County council chambers. They were Indigenous and non-Indigenous planners who met with and learned from one another about navigating the shoals of land use planning in the uncertain waters of the duty to consult and accommodate.
The intention of the workshop was to raise awareness about the intersection of land use planning and Aboriginal & Treaty rights. In one short day, it is impossible to cover more than just the tip of the iceberg, but it did provide a broad overview of the history of colonialism in North America and how planning fits into that story. It offered a basic grounding in the meaning of the Aboriginal experience and some understanding of the Canadian presence on the Indigenous homeland of “Turtle Island”. Essential consultation principles where also covered (e.g., on the scale of participation, “informing” is no longer enough).
The day involved perspectives from Indigenous consultation specialists, and time was allotted for both an open-ended Q&A session, as well as specific case studies. George Govier, the Lands, Resources, and Consultation Co-ordinator from the Historic Saugeen Métis provided one case study that demonstrated how lessons can be learned from an affirmational experience with a corporation (Bruce Power).
The process this community has developed relies on mutual sign-offs of discussions, and site visit verifications. The outcome of the engagement plan has been used as part of the corporation’s license renewal. Doran Ritchie, the Land Use Planning Co-ordinator for the two communities of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, provided a second case study, involving the complexity of cross-jurisdictional planning that take place between First Nation communities and adjacent municipalities. The organisers were pleasantly surprised as this session turned into practical brain-storming sessions that drew on the wide array of expertise across the group. The case studies are designed to be straightforward discussions of best practice, but they have also shown the rich potential of creating a space, to not only share experiences, but to begin a process of collaboration about that which we both share an intense interest… Land! This hoped-for evolution demonstrates the importance of creating bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous planners.
Doran closed the workshop with some poignant thoughts and a prayer, sharing with the group that he felt the sort of conversations that were had throughout the day is one example of the reconciliation work, see: [http://ontarioplanners.ca/Blog/Planning-Exchange/October-2016], which needs to take place. The workshop was organised by the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and facilitated by the Shared Path Consultation Initiative. To all those who helped make the day a success; many thanks.
Clara MacCallum Fraser is the co-founder of the Shared Path Consultation Initiative and a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. David J. Stinson is a Partner with Incite Planning and is on the Board of Shared Path Consultation Initiative. He is also a member of CIPs Indigenous Community Planning Committee.