Lack of Meaningful First Nations Consultation

On June 21, 2016 ‪#‎NationalAboriginalDay‬ we salute not only the First Nations of this province, but we also support the First Nations in their constitutional rights to be consulted and heard on land use. As was decided in Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), the Province has the constitutional obligation to not just provide notice of a proposed project, but to understand the impact on the Aboriginal rights holders, and consult and accommodate in good faith.

The Nova Scotia Wetlands Conservation Policy notes that wetlands provide “medicinal and ceremonial plants important to the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia.” To consult in good faith, then, the map and information provided should be relevant and clear, show any wetlands and watercourses, and should recognize that the reader may be someone for whom English is not his/her first language.

Today we report to you with great disappointment that the First Nations of Nova Scotia were not given fair opportunity to assess the land use proposed by the Fall River Quarry.

In the 2015 application for the Fall River Quarry, Freedom of Information requests have given us proof that the “usual 60 day notice” was shortened to 30 days in this case, AND the letter sent to them by Nova Scotia Environment stated there were no wetlands or watercourses on the site. The map provided was from a far distance away, so it would be impossible to determine where the nearest watercourses were located. Why? We have no idea. Rob MacPherson was continually asking the Nova Scotia Environment employee if his permit was approved yet, and how the file could be expedited, and at some point the NSE employee seemed to submit and state he could expedite the file by shortening the usual 60 day waiting period.

If you’ve been following our FaceBook page or our website, you’ll know that not only is this inaccurate, but the wetlands have been heavily damaged on the site by Scotian Materials, prior to industrial approval.

Is this good faith? Shorten the usual timeframe AND misrepresent the site? Nova Scotia Environment has a long way to go to uphold their constitutional obligation as was decided under Haida.