PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Encourages Indigenous Peoples’ Participation in Canada’s Review of Environmental Assessment Processes

June 28, 2016 – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is encouraging Indigenous peoples across Canada to participate in 1) reviewing the Government’s environmental and regulatory assessment processes associated with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012; 2) in modernizing the National Energy Board; and 3) in restoring lost protections and introducing modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.

Funding will be available to support the participation of Indigenous groups for meetings and consultation sessions starting September 2016. Applications for funding will begin July 2016.

Indigenous peoples, specifically Indigenous women, have been raising public awareness for decades about the need for greater environmental protections of resources such as water. Water walkers, for example, are Indigenous women who carry an open vessel of water for great distances, without a vehicle and without spilling one drop. Wikwemikong First Nation’s Josephine Mandamin, a Nohkomis or grandmother water walker, started water walking based on the traditional belief that women are responsible for caring for water. She has walked the shorelines of all five Great Lakes – over 20 000 kilometres or half the earth’s circumference. In welcoming the input of Indigenous peoples and communities in the review of environmental assessment processes, the federal government is illustrating its commitment to an imperative respect for the water, land and resources of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Elder Josephine Mandamin from Wikwemikong First Nation has walked over 20 000 km for the water (Ayse Gursoz, Indigenous Rising File Photo).
Elder Josephine Mandamin from Wikwemikong First Nation has walked over 20 000 km for the water (Ayse Gursoz, Indigenous Rising File Photo).

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, with support from the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, are tasked with creating an Expert Panel that will review all environmental assessment processes associated with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012, namely the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in order to restore public trust and confidence. The goal of the review is to implement new scientifically-based processes that protect the environment, develop the economy, and respect the fundamental rights of Indigenous peoples.

As part of the modernization process of the National Energy Board, the Minister of Natural Resources and his Panel will seek the views of the public, specifically Indigenous peoples across Canada, in order to develop a robust, regionally specific, efficient and effective energy regulator, one which regulates major energy projects such as the construction of pipelines.

Thirdly, the Minister of Transport along with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard are mandating two parliamentary committees to examine the implementation of lost protections and introduction of modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act. The Fisheries Act authorizes the government’s management of Canadian fisheries and protection of marine habitats. The Navigation Protection Act authorizes and regulates interferences with the public right of navigation, and prohibits the depositing or throwing of materials that risk impacting navigation in navigable waters and the dewatering of navigable waters.

All three aforementioned reviews must have strong, robust, and inclusive participation by regionally-diverse Indigenous peoples and communities, as well as Indigenous regional organizations and National Aboriginal Organizations, in order for the environmental and regulatory assessment reviews to be considered legitimate and substantiated.

Quote:

“We at the Native Women’s Association of Canada strongly encourage the participation and political engagement of Indigenous peoples and communities in the review of the federal environmental and energy processes, legislation and regulatory bodies. It is very important that our voices be heard, our communities consulted, our fundamental rights respected, and our lands protected, as outlined by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said President Lavell-Harvard.

For more information, take a look at the Government of Canada’s website – http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1088199&_ga=1.117979981.591637226.1466618190 

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Acting Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca