Aboriginal land claims that have been neglected for generations need to be resolved “if we want continued economic prosperity in Canada,” says Heather Treacy, Q.C. in the June 2016 issue of Lexpert magazine.

Project proponents who wish to avoid lengthy court battles are increasingly engaging in direct negotiations with Aboriginal communities to secure long-term support for commercial developments through detailed impact benefits agreements (IBAs).  Treacy underscores that “long-term” is the key concept here. Speaking from extensive experience, she notes that organizations should see the negotiation process as an exercise in good-faith relationship building and make a concerted effort to learn the priorities and values of the Aboriginal community. It is important to keep the lines of communications open. “Hurried, one-off consultations do not work,” she concludes.

But it shouldn’t fall solely on industry to drive the consultation process and move deals forward. Treacy agrees with many in the field that government should be engaged and fulfill its “constitutional duty to consult”; otherwise, deals could later be subject to challenge by the Aboriginal community.

“All players [industry, Aboriginal groups and governments] need to be fully engaged and government needs to demonstrate strong leadership to provide guidelines that all parties can rely on,” she maintains. “Government cannot drop in and out of the process.”

Read the full article from the June 2016 issue of Lexpert magazine.