NWAC supports the implementation of impact assessment legislative and policy frameworks to ensure Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people are protected from the negative effects of industrial projects. These frameworks must guarantee benefits for Indigenous communities from economic activities undertaken on their traditional lands and territories. The frameworks must include the voices and concerns of Indigenous women, respect for Indigenous self-determination and decision-making, and reflect Indigenous knowledge.
Industrial projects often have disproportionately negative environmental, social, economic and cultural impacts on Indigenous women. Indigenous women face significant barriers in gaining employment, workplace advancement and business opportunities in the energy and mining sectors. In 2018, only 17.9% of Canada’s mining workforce and 25.2% of Canada’s utility force were women. Worse, for women of a visible minority those numbers plummet to 2.8% and 4.2%, respectively.1
At the same time, Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people shoulder a disproportionate burden of risks from these activities. Perhaps the most reprehensible impact of industrial projects is the increased risk of sexual violence against Indigenous women and girls that come along with the presence of industrial work camps.
“Expert Witnesses told the National Inquiry that resource extraction can drive violence against Indigenous women and girls in several ways, including issues related to transient workers, harassment and assault in the workplace, rotational shift work, substance abuse/addictions, and economic insecurity.” (Executive Summary of the Final Report into MMIWG, pg.36)2
Failure to implement impact assessment legislation and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples supports decision-making structures do not include the rights, interests and concerns of Indigenous women and their communities.
Impact assessment legislation ensures that decision makers consider the impacts of their projects and whether they should proceed. Through changes made to Canada’s impact assessment legislation, assessments of projects are now required to consider factors including sex, gender and identity. Since Indigenous women tend to be disproportionately affected by industrial projects, their knowledge, experiences and concerns must be included in the assessment process.
NWAC has made submissions to the House and Senate standing committees studying Bill C-69 to highlight the importance of a culturally-relevant gender based analysis in the impact assessment process. Working with like-minded MPs and Senators, NWAC took a leading role in ensuring that, for the first time, federal environmental legislation set out specific requirements that environmental decision-making take into account impacts on Indigenous women specifically. Bill C-69 received royal assent on June 21st, 2019, significantly diluting the legislative framework for assessing the socio-economic and environmental impacts of proposed industrial projects under federal legislation. These amendments will minimize the risks these projects pose to Indigenous women.
NWAC has prepared a culturally relevant gender-based analysis of Canada’s Minerals and Metals Plan for Natural Resources Canada that discusses the negative and positive effects of mining activities for Indigenous women.
1. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency should work with Indigenous women’s organizations to develop Indigenous gender-based analysis guidance documents for the assessment of project impacts on Indigenous women under the new Impact Assessment Act (Bill C-69).
2. The Canada Minerals and Metals Plan should set out a roadmap for the development of minerals and metals related to the transition to renewable energies and include in that roadmap how renewable energy-related mining will be regulated to minimize negative impacts on Indigenous women while maximizing positive impacts.
3. Inter-provincial/territorial agreements should be developed to ensure national standards for the assessment of industrial projects regulated at the provincial level in order to ensure the protection and advancement of the rights and interests of Indigenous women, their families and communities.
- Catalyst. “Quick Take: Women in Energy—Gas, Mining, and Oil” (March 2019). https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-in-energy-gas-mining-oil/
- National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “Executive Summary of Final Report” (June 2019). https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/