First Nations’ Resource Policies

Management & Governance

The Tahltan have learned when dealing with major issues such as land use planning and resource development projects, they must speak with one voice — not many whispers.”

– Mining Watch Canada (1999)45

The resource industry is extremely complex and it is important that someone from each First Nation is familiar with the issues surrounding resource use. Many First Nations, including the TRTFN, the Teslin Tlingit First Nation and the Tsilhqot’in National Government, have a designated lands and resources manager (or ‘mining coordinator’ or ‘stewardship coordinator’).46 Other First Nations have councillors with designated mining or resource portfolios. The designated person’s contact information should be kept up-to-date and provided to proponents and government representatives.47

Although First Nations typically have limited resources to hire and train new staff, it is important to attempt to maintain and utilize the same staff for effective communication and to promote an efficient resource governance process.48 Ideally, proponents and government ministries would contribute to building First Nations’ capacity by helping to support the hiring and training of full-time lands and resources managers from the community.

Resource policies often describe the manager’s role and responsibilities in the context of the First Nation’s government and community. For example, many First Nations’ resource policies contain information to answer the following questions:

  • What is the community’s governance structure?49
  • What is the authority and responsibility of the lands and resources manager?
  • How will decisions be made and by whom? E.g.:
    • Which decisions can the lands and resources manager make?
    • Which decisions require the approval of Chief and council?
    • How will Chief and council be kept informed about resource proposals, projects and issues?
    • How will community members be kept informed about resource proposals, projects and issues?

The answers to these questions can guide internal community information-sharing and decision-making.50 They can also promote greater certainty, transparency and consistency in First Nations’ decision-making processes to those both within and outside the community.51

Proponents often have concerns about the flow of information from First Nations’ resource managers to Chief and Council.52 A clear resource policy can help to set out the process for information-sharing. Ideally, mining companies and provincial ministries will help facilitate this process by providing financial assistance to cover meeting costs between First Nations’ resource managers, community members and Council.

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