Indigenous Advisory Committee Holds Historic First Meeting
Committee’s advice to have far-reaching impacts for the CER’s work
The first meeting of the Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) was held on September 2-3. This virtual gathering brought together respected Indigenous leaders from across the country and marks a clear and historic step for the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) along its path to reconciliation.
The meeting was opened by local Elder Sykes Powderface from the Stoney Nakoda Nation and included a welcome and land acknowledgement. The federal Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan also provided a formal welcome on behalf of the Government of Canada.
Over the course of the two days, Committee members received a detailed overview of the CER, had opportunities to ask questions and began the first steps towards co-developing their terms of reference with the board of directors. The IAC also met with CEO Gitane de Silva and Lead Commissioner, Damien Cote to gain a better understanding of the CER’s modern governance structure, of which the IAC is the final piece.
“We are committed to transforming the way we work with Indigenous peoples by enhancing their involvement in our mandate,” Cassie Doyle, chairperson of the board of directors says. “This transformation is based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”
The regulator’s CEO acknowledges there may be difficult conversations to be had in order for the organization to improve its relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada.
“The relationships we are building with the IAC along with other groups like the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committees are helping shift the way we do business,” says De Silva. “I look forward to the work ahead.”
Minister O’Regan, reflecting on his introduction to committee members, believes this type of Indigenous participation is important moving forward.
“Working with Indigenous peoples in the spirit of Reconciliation is how good projects get built in the 21st century,” he said. “The IAC will share the knowledge and diverse perspectives needed for us all to come to respectful, mutual understanding.”
The IAC will use their diverse perspectives to advise the board of directors on how the CER can build a new relationship with Indigenous peoples. They help to “set the bar” and shape the strategy to integrate Indigenous rights and interests into the CER’s work and processes. The IAC does not provide advice on individual projects. Rather, the advice they provide will be applied broadly across the organization, with impacts that reach beyond individual projects.
In addition to the creation of the IAC, Bill C-69 mandated improvements to other CER processes related to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples including:
- Recognizing Indigenous rights and confirming the Government’s duty to consult, including a requirement to assess impacts on these rights and consider lndigenous knowledge in decision making.
- Requiring that at least one member of the board of directors and one commissioner be Indigenous.
- Formalizing early engagement process steps to better identify and respond to concerns expressed by stakeholders and Indigenous peoples.
- Protecting Indigenous knowledge that is provided in confidence from unauthorized disclosure.
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