To facilitate its role as the main instrument of wildlife management in the Sahtú Region, the Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gotsę́ Nákedı has the power to establish rules and procedures for the carrying out of any consultation required under the Sahtú Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. The Board does not currently have a community engagement and consultation protocol in place and has determined that, in light of recent and upcoming demands with regard to wildlife management, it is necessary to develop such a protocol.
The consultation protocol will serve two purposes. The first is to provide the Board with a guideline for fulfilling its consultation mandate in accordance with the land claim agreement and Canadian legal requirements. The second is to inform the public of the Board’s duty and provide an opportunity for the public to hold the Board accountable.
The Courts have determined that “the first step of the consultation process is to discuss the process itself.” As such, the Board will be developing its consultation protocol in collaboration with co-management bodies, Aboriginal organizations and communities in the Sahtú Region.
“Consultation” is defined under the Land Claim Agreement as:
a) the provision, to the party to be consulted, of notice of a matter to be decided in sufficient form and detail to allow that party to prepare its views on the matter;
b) the provision of a reasonable period of time in which the party to be consulted may prepare its views on the matter, and provision of an opportunity to present such views to the party obliged to consult; and
c) full and fair consideration by the party obliged to consult of any views presented.
Phase 1 (2014-2015) of this process involved assistance from legal professionals in reviewing:
1. The SRRB’s mandate and consultation obligations under the Land Claim Agreement;
2. The legal context for consultation, including relevant case law;
3. Best practices in existing consultation protocols used by other land claim organizations;
In addition, SRRB Staff, Board Members, and Special Advisors were briefed on and received training on these topics at in-person meetings in September 2014 and January 2015 and in teleconferences throughout the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Phase 2 (2015-2016) of this process will include development of the Board’s consultation guidelines and two rounds of community engagement on the guidelines:
1. The development of an initial draft consultation protocol in Spring 2015;
2. An initial round of community engagement on the draft consultation protocol in Spring/Summer 2015;
3. The accommodation of community concerns in the draft consultation protocol in Fall 2015;
4. A regional workshop to allow for a second round of community engagement in Fall 2015/Winter 2016;
5. Completion of the final consultation protocol by Spring 2016.
Community engagement with the Sahtú communities is a key step in developing an appropriate and current consultation protocol that meets practical and legal needs of the Board and the Land Claim Agreement beneficiaries.