Protecting Indigenous Rights: Consultation and Consent

Free, Prior and Informed Consent

International declarations and national laws around the world are increasingly recognizing Indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

For our continued survival, dignity and well being, any and all development of our lands, territories and resources requires our free, prior and informed consent – BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council.  

FPIC means that Indigenous peoples’ are FREE from manipulation or intimidation by mining companies and that consent is sought PRIOR to the beginning of any mining activities. These rights also maintain that Indigenous peoples’ are INFORMED of all potential environmental, economic and cultural impacts of proposed activities and that CONSENT demands full and equitable consultation and agreement.

Indigenous peoples’ must:

FREE Be FREE to make decisions without manipulation or intimidation.
PRIOR Provide consent PRIOR to the beginning of any mining activities.
INFORMED Be INFORMED of all environmental, economic and cultural impacts.
CONSENT Ensure CONSENT is only provided after full and equitable consultation.


The issue with FPIC in Canada and BC is that it is not required even though the Crown is legally required to consult and accommodate First Nations.

In BC, consent must only be obtained from the First Nations governed by the Nisga’a, Tsawwassen, and Maa-nulth Final Agreements. This is in contrast to other places in the world, such as Guyana, where legislation requires consent be obtained prior to authorization of mining on Indigenous lands.

While requiring strong FPIC legislation is beneficial to First Nations communities, it may also be positive step for mining companies. For example, the Chief Operating Officer of a significant gold mining company recently commented that community support can greatly increase the valuation of a gold mine. In 2011, the International Finance Corporation (a major lender to resource development) began requiring borrowers to adhere to the requirements of FPIC. These and other developments in the sector show how FPIC is becoming accepted as best practice in the resource development sector.

In 2011 the International Finance Cooperation, a major lender for resource development ventures, began requiring FPIC from all its borrowers.


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