First Nations Environmental Assessment Techincial Working Group

Toolkit Section Summaries

Section 1 – Introduction to the Toolkit

Welcome to the second edition of the First Nations Environmental Assessment Toolkit. To view document click on Introduction to ToolKit [PDF]

All other sections will require a completion of the ToolKit Order Form, if you have any questions regarding the ordering of the toolkit please contact the FNEATWG Coordinator.

Section 2 – Environmental Assessment Basics

EA is a process used to assess and predict the effects of a proposed project and valuate the acceptability of the project. This section of the toolkit describes the general benefits and limitations of EA processes. It provides an overview of typical environmental assessment processes and describes the basic components of an EA.

Section 3 – Environmental Assessment from a First Nation Perspective

This section provides information and potential strategies that are relevant to First Nation participation in federal and provincial EA processes. Factors to consider when deciding on your First Nation’s level of participation in an EA are described.

In addition, strategies for effective participation and potential funding sources are outlined. As well, the need to develop a formal process or policy that your First Nation can use for future environmental assessments is discussed and linked to capacity building for your First Nation.

Section 4 – Consultation and Accommodation

This section explains the relationship between environmental assessment and the government’s obligation to consider. Aboriginal interests when it makes decisions. It provides a brief explanation of the Canadian legal system and how it relates to the rights of Aboriginal peoples. It focuses on the necessity of consultation with First Nations when these rights might be infringed or limited and the kinds of factors that must be taken into consideration during such consultation.

Section 5 – British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Process

This section describes the EA review process that is prescribed under the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act (BCEAA). It outlines when a review is required and the specific steps required for the BCEAA process. Consultation requirements and opportunities for funding First Nation participation are introduced as well as opportunities and strategies for participating effectively in the provincial process. Decision-making in the provincial process and strategies for protecting First Nations’ interests in a project decision are described. Activities that take place after a proponent receives an environmental assessment certificate are also discussed.

Section 6 – Canada’s Environmental Assessment Process

This section provides an overview of the environmental assessment requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). CEAA applies to all projects for which the federal government has a decision-making role, either as proponent, funder, land administrator or regulator. Your First Nation is most likely to encounter the federal EA process when projects proposed to take place on reserve land are assessed under the CEAA, but you may also have an interest in participating – or be asked to participate – in CEAA assessments of projects or activities proposed in your traditional territory.

Section 7 – Joint Review Processes

This section provides an overview of joint review processes that occur when an environmental assessment is required by more than one regulatory agency, such as Canada and British Columbia. It also discusses situations where joint reviews are conducted between First Nation governments and federal or provincial agencies. Strategies for participating in joint review processes are discussed.

Section 8 – Applying CEAA on Reserves

This section describes the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) EA review process applied to reserves and the roles of Indian and Northern Affairs (INAC) and other federal agencies in this process. It outlines the actions and types of project that trigger an EA on reserve including capital projects, land-based development and economic development projects. The roles of First Nation governments and communities are described as well as what to consider and why. Other on-reserve EA processes, such as those under the First Nations Land Management Act, are also introduced.

Section 9 – Traditional Knowledge and Environmental Assessment

If your First Nation is involved in an environmental assessment in efforts to identify and protect your Aboriginal interests and values it may be worth including traditional knowledge (TK) as part of your involvement in the process. This section describes a process for assembling TK and ways that you might choose to include it in an environmental assessment. It also discusses legal considerations, funding for studies and ways to protect your TK.

Section 10 – Reviewing Environmental Assessment Reports

This section outlines suggested steps to follow when reviewing an EA report or application. It is important to review environmental assessment reports to determine if your First Nation’s interests, issues and concerns have been addressed.

Section 11 – Follow-up Programs

Follow-up programs are an important part of the environmental management of a project. This section discusses follow-up programs and suggests ways that your First Nation can participate. Types of follow-up programs, principles of successful follow-up and what to look for when reviewing follow-up programs are described. Examples and case studies of follow-up programs are included.

Section 12 – Development Agreements

A development agreement is a useful tool for managing your relationship with a proponent. It can help ensure that your First Nation’s interests are protected and that it benefits from a project. This section discusses the benefits and limitations of development agreements. Steps for negotiating development agreements are outlined along with examples of content to use as a guideline for developing your agreement.

Section 13 – Detailed Case Study – Voisey’s Bay Nickel Mine

This section of the toolkit provides a detailed history of the harmonized Innu-Inuit-federal-provincial environmental assessment of the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Mine located on the north-east coast of Labrador. The environmental assessment process and the lessons learned are described.

Section 14 – Detailed Case Study – Tulsequah Chief Project

This section of the toolkit provides an overview of the EAs and lessons learned during the proposed re-opening of the Tulsequah Chief Project in north-western British Columbia (BC). The proposed project location is entirely within the traditional territory of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN). An EA was conducted by Canada, BC and TRTFN.


Another way to find information is to use the index at the back of the toolkit. The index lists the section and page numbers for key topics discussed in the toolkit.


The glossary at the back of the toolkit contains definitions for the various terms used in the toolkit.