Preparing a Resource Policy

Guiding Principles

First Nations’ resource policies generally contain principles that guide the decision-making process of First Nations’ governments. These guiding principles (standards) help evaluate proposed resource developments in affected communities. Here are some examples of guiding principles from various First Nations’ resource policies.

Take care of the land and water and the land and water will take care of you.
—BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council
  • Meaningful consultation
    Consultation is an ongoing process through all stages of mining activities. Ongoing consultation often requires mining companies to report to the First Nations community before, during, and after mining activities are carried out.
  • Consistency with land use plan
    Land use plans, while time-consuming and costly to produce, are a tool that First Nations can use to identify what parts of their traditional territories are suitable for different activities, including where resource extraction may be appropriate. Resource policies can refer to this land use plan. For example, it might say that the resource manager must determine if a proposal is consistent with the land use plan.
  • Protection of cultural activities & heritage
    Resource policies can require that mining activities and developments in your territory will promote environmental, economic, social and cultural sustainability. Cultural sustainability refers to things like protecting land-based cultural practices. Resource policies can also refer to cultural heritage sites – even if they aren’t registered sites. For example, if a burial or archaeological site is identified during mining activities, a guideline might say that miners must suspend operations and contact the First Nation to determine appropriate next steps.
The “polluter pays” principle means that the mining company is responsible for the full cost of their activities, including the long-term care and maintenance of mine sites.
  • Environmental stewardship
    Many First Nations’ resource policies include environmental stewardship (sometimes called environmental sustainability) as a guiding principle. This principle refers to such things as:

    • the land’s carrying capacity (what it can support)
    • protecting critical habitat for fish and wildlife
    • safeguarding water quality and quantity
    • adopting the “polluter pays” principle
    • not allowing activities that would cause irreparable harm
Social and economic benefits are often divided into “Employment and Business Opportunities” and “Financial Benefits and Compensation.”
  • Socio-economic benefits 
    First Nations resource policies commonly include social and economic benefits. Some examples of these principles are that mining activities must:

    • be consistent with First Nations’ long-term economic development goals
    • contribute to local economic diversity
    • provide reasonable economic benefits over the long term
  • Intergenerational Equity 
    Intergenerational equity is similar to the principle of sustainability (below) and means that the present generation should not act in a way that jeopardizes the well-being of future generations. This may include scaling back development so future generations have the chance to benefit from mineral wealth.
  • Sustainability 
    Sustainable development is commonly defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meeting their own needs.” This concept involves consideration of economic, environmental and socio-cultural factors.

Sustainable development policies recognize the need for:

    • Traditional land-use management
    • Management of natural resources based on respect of the land
    • Conservation of cultural and spiritual values
    • Ecological conservation
    • Restoration of damaged ecosystems



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