Leaders from both the private sector and aboriginal organizations frequently find that a fundamental challenge to effective, constructive and productive corporate Aboriginal relations is building trust. Trust is required for mutually beneficial partnerships and for meaningful Aboriginal engagement. Moreover, effective Aboriginal engagement is itself important to Canada’s future in the resource development sector -a failure to develop more productive partnerships and relations could result in missed opportunities and, ultimately, a loss of business to other countries.
The recent changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) make trusted and effective partnerships between the private sector and Aboriginal communities all the more salient. Some of the main differences between CEAA 2012 and its predecessor are; a new purpose to promote communication and cooperation with Aboriginal people, the introduction of legislated timelines for the completion of environmental assessments (EAs); a reduction in the number of departments and agencies involved in EA; the possibility of substituting provincial EA processes with varying commitments to Aboriginal consultation, a narrower scope and focus on items of federal interest including impacts on Aboriginal traditional and cultural use; and, public participation is now limited to “interested parties” (whereas previously public participation was not subject to restrictions).
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