What is Crown Consultation

Early, effective and meaningful consultation is an important part of resource development planning and is a Government of Canada priority. Most major resource development and infrastructure projects in the territories require federal government consultation with Indigenous peoples, governments and organizations. Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) have unique rights guaranteed under section 35 of the Constitution Act,1982, which recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of Indigenous peoples (Indigenous rights).

Crown consultation is based on the Government of Canada's 'duty to consult', which has been affirmed and defined through Supreme Court of Canada decisions. The duty to consult is guided by the principle of the 'honour of the Crown', which requires that the Crown act in good faith and honourably in its dealings with Indigenous peoples, and provide meaningful opportunities for consultation appropriate to the circumstances.

The Crown (i.e. the Government of Canada) has a duty to consult with Indigenous peoples when the Crown contemplates conduct that might adversely affect asserted or established Indigenous rights. The Crown, where appropriate, also has a duty to accommodate any adverse impacts on asserted or established rights. The goal is to listen to and understand the views and concerns of affected Indigenous groups and, where necessary and possible, modify actions or decisions to avoid unlawful infringement of those rights.

Crown consultation is an important part of the Government of Canada's commitment to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed relationship, based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

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How the Crown consults in the Territories

In the territories, the Crown (i.e. the Government of Canada) relies on the processes of co-management boards (e.g. land and water boards and environmental assessment boards) to assist the Crown in meeting its duty to consult obligations with Indigenous peoples, and accommodate any potential adverse impacts to asserted or established Indigenous rights resulting from decisions made by the federal government, or the boards. The Crown's reliance on board processes has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada.

For more information about board processes, please visit Regulatory Systems in the territories.

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