The Manitoba government announced Nov. 21 that it has signed its first new consultation protocol with a First Nation under the terms outlined by the Manitoba-First Nations Mineral Development Protocol created last May.
The agreement with Manto Sipi Cree Nation in northeastern Manitoba was signed following the recent completion of negotiations.
“This agreement is significant as it advances reconciliation by fostering a mutually respectful relationship between the Crown and Indigenous communities, as well as between industry and Indigenous communities,” said Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke in a press release. “The certainty that these agreements bring will enhance public confidence in the mineral sector and the necessary assurance that Manitoba is the right place for business to invest, build and grow.”
The Manitoba-First Nations Mineral Development Protocol defines how Crown-Indigenous consultations occur during all phases of mineral development, adds certainty to enable projects to move ahead and ensures First Nations can be actively involved in all phases of mining projects within their traditional territories. It also gives mineral exploration and mining companies a clear understanding of the requirements and processes surrounding mining projects in First Nations’ traditional territories.
“The mineral development protocol helps to create certainty for all parties including First Nations, industry and government, and ensures that First Nations can be actively involved in all phases of mineral development to create and share in the benefits of growth in this sector,” said Pedersen.“We have a duty to consult in a meaningful way with Indigenous communities when any proposed provincial decision or action may adversely affect the exercise of Aboriginal or Treaty rights. Through a meaningful negotiation process with the Manto Sipi Cree Nation, we have arrived at a process for Crown-Indigenous consultation for all phases of mineral exploration and development.”
“While negotiating with the province, we were able to have a number of discussions on historic issues including unresolved treaty land entitlements,” said Manto Sipi Cree Nation Chief Oliver Okemow. “We are very pleased with the discussions that took place, which have collectively helped us to address some of our historical concerns, and are excited to move forward with a renewed relationship and understanding with the province and to advance the mineral development opportunities within our traditional territory.”
The government says it is currently negotiating with about 10 First Nations regarding the development of consultation protocols. Any First Nation with immediate or potential mining development opportunities can enter into negotiations with the province on consultation protocols.
Manto Sipi Cree Nation is located 585 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg at the mouth of Gods River along the north shore of Gods Lake.