Minister of Aboriginal Relations John Rustad says he plans on engaging with the Nadleh Whut’en and Stellat’en First Nations on their new aboriginal water use plan.
The pair of aboriginal communities near Fraser Lake declared the new set of water protection guidelines for their traditional territories earlier this week.
“As we walk together, we have to be able to build some trust and build relationships and looking at these ideas and finding ways to incorporate it is doing that.” Rustad said
He added the province is the process of creating a new Water Sustainability Act.
“The ideas that have been brought forward here are likely things that were are going to be able work with. I haven’t seen it yet, but we’ve got a pretty good relationship with the Nations and we look forward to working with them.”
However, the MLA for Nechako Lakes backed away from endorsing the idea of a third separate environmental assessment run by First Nations for projects on their territory. Right now the federal and provincial governments each carry out their own environmental assessment of a project.
Some believe the Tsilhqot’in decision in the Supreme Court of Canada could open the door to allowing First Nations to act as a third environmental regulatory body on some projects.
“From an administrative perspective we are trying to figure out how to harmonize into a single environmental assessment with the federal government as a opposed to doing two or perhaps three.”
They will be taking First Nations into consideration, but a third separate process would just complicate things too much for stakeholders and industry according to Rustad.