Indigenous consultation, engagement and reconciliation

The CNSC recognizes and understands the importance of consulting and building relationships with Canada’s Indigenous peoples and is taking concrete steps towards working together to ensure the safe and effective regulation of nuclear energy and materials.

Duty to consult

The Government of Canada has a duty to consult and, where appropriate, accommodates Indigenous groups when it considers conduct that might adversely impact potential or established Indigenous or treaty rights. The duty to consult is an important part of the CNSC’s activities, including for licensing and for decision making in environmental reviews.

The CNSC ensures that all licensing decisions and environmental reviews under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, the Impact Assessment Act, or other relevant legislation uphold the honour of the Crown and consider Indigenous peoples’ potential or established Indigenous or treaty rights pursuant to section 35 of The Constitution Act, 1982 (together, the "Indigenous interests").

Coordinated approaches

Where its quasi-judicial functions allow, the CNSC supports a whole-of-government approach to Indigenous consultation. CNSC staff will coordinate consultative efforts, where feasible, with other federal, provincial, and/or territorial regulatory departments and agencies through a one-window approach with respect to environmental reviews and licensing activities.

Consultation requirements for environmental review and licensing processes

The CNSC ensures that Indigenous groups have meaningful opportunities to participate in all aspects of environmental review and licensing processes, in order to meet the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate. As Canada’s nuclear lifecycle regulator, it recognizes that consultation activities may continue beyond an environmental review or licensing process.

Engagement and reconciliation

Beyond consultation that arises from contemplated licensing and environmental review decisions, the CNSC is committed to building long-term relationships with Indigenous peoples in order to build partnerships and trust with Indigenous communities with an interest in CNSC-regulated facilities. It does so by pursuing ongoing, informative and collaborative interactions with Indigenous groups and organizations who have interests regarding the regulation of nuclear activities and facilities within their traditional and/or treaty territories.

By providing ongoing funding support through the Participant Funding Program, as well as ongoing engagement and information sharing, the CNSC helps to ensure that Indigenous peoples can meaningfully participate in Commission proceedings and ongoing regulatory work including regulatory oversight reports and the Independent Environmental Monitoring Program.

Expectations and requirements of licensees and applicants for Indigenous engagement

In 2016, REGDOC-3.2.2, Indigenous Engagement was published and sets out requirements and guidance for licensees and applicants whose proposed projects may raise the Crown’s duty to consult.

While the CNSC cannot delegate its obligation, it can delegate procedural aspects of the consultation process to licensees where appropriate. In many cases, licensees are best positioned to collect information and propose any appropriate additional measures to avoid, mitigate or offset adverse impacts on Indigenous rights and interests, and the CNSC may use such measures in meeting its consultation obligations.

Support for Indigenous groups for meaningful participation

There are established tools and mechanisms to help support Indigenous groups in participating meaningfully in regulatory activities, including:

  • Participant Funding Program (PFP) which includes funding support for:
    • meetings with CNSC staff on topics of regulatory interest
    • participation in environmental monitoring programs
    • Indigenous knowledge and land use studies, where applicable
  • translation of Commission proceedings into Indigenous languages, where appropriate
  • open houses and "Meet the Nuclear Regulator" sessions in Indigenous communities, upon request
  • outreach in Indigenous communities, including schools
  • provision, in a timely and effective way, of relevant information to Indigenous communities, including making experts available to answer questions from Indigenous communities upon request
  • means for Indigenous groups and individuals to appear before the Commission through oral interventions in relation to any public Commission proceeding

Indigenous knowledge

Indigenous knowledge has made, and continues to make, valuable contributions to our environmental assessments and regulatory processes. Indigenous ways of knowing and cultural context enhance the understanding of potential impacts of projects and strengthen the rigour of project reviews and regulatory oversight.

The CNSC endeavours to collaborate with Indigenous communities to ensure that Indigenous knowledge is appropriately protected, managed, considered and reflected in regulatory activities, including the integration of Indigenous knowledge into its regulatory work where appropriate.

The CNSC has implemented an Indigenous Knowledge Policy Framework that articulates its overall approach to effectively working with Indigenous peoples and their knowledge.

Related links

For more information about the CNSC’s approach to Indigenous consultation, engagement and reconciliation, contact us.

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