Meaningful Consultation Step One: Nation Consultation
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Supreme Court of Canada rulings have defined Meaningful Consultation as having two
- Consultation; and,
It has been shown that because of the policy of forced assimilation, these two components
are not enough to fulfill Meaningful Consultation’s goal to reconcile the pre-existence
of Aboriginal societies with the sovereignty of the Crown. To augment the process,
each of the two components must themselves be separated into two parts106. The resulting
four steps of a Meaningful Consultation process are:
- Nation Consultation;
- Nation-to-Nation Consultation;
- Harmonization; and,
This four step Meaningful Consultation process107 is capable of honouring Aboriginal
law, Canadian legislation, common law and international recommendations on meaningful
Meaningful Consultation of Aboriginal rights is about functionally including those
rights in Canada’s national infrastructure framework. To do this Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
national infrastructures must weave together to create a mosaic of local, regional
and central services that together function as Canada’s national infrastructure,
respecting both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal rights. Unfortunately, most Aboriginal
infrastructure was destroyed by Canada’s policy of forced assimilation making it
impossible to start Meaningful Consultation on an equal nation-to-nation footing.
Consultation of Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal Nations before commencing nation-to-nation
consultation provides a database for the knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal
infrastructure needed by both Aboriginal and consulting governments to generate working
definitions for culture-based Aboriginal infrastructure. This “pre-requisite” intra-nation
consultation is referred to as the Nation Consultation and it is the first step in
The information obtained from the Nation Consultation not only provides guidance
to Aboriginal leaders and a definition of Aboriginal infrastructure for Canada to
respect, it also provides a cultural database through which all non-Aboriginal institutions
and citizens can understand and respect Aboriginal culture, law and regulation, and
rights. If Canada had not forced the assimilation of Aboriginal Peoples, the Nation
Consultation step would not be necessary.
The Nation Consultation is a pre-requisite step to all aspects of the Meaningful
Consultation process. It is a facilitated process to acquire a detailed database
on Aboriginal culture. Nation Consultation is the only part of the four-step Meaningful
Consultation process that can be separated and initiated on its own without triggering
a full process based on the Aboriginal right to consultation.
In 1996, the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended Canada
fund the creation of a database on Aboriginal history and culture that reflected
the diversity of Aboriginal Nations in Canada56. That database was never created.
2. General Guidelines:
The Nation Consultation step is a consultation defined and guided by Elders104. It
will need to occur with urban and land-based Aboriginal populations and nations.
It has two distinct components:
A. Elder Seeking: Consultation of Elders for definition of the cultural process for
Nation Consultation. The cultural process would become the culturally-sensitive procedure
used for the consultation of the Aboriginal Nation or urban population.
1. Land-Based: A request to consult Elders is presented to the nation’s governing
council. The format for the seeking will be set by the governance council. The resultant
Elder-defined consultation process will need to be ratified by the national governance.
The cultural process will vary for different nations and may vary within each nation
depending on the right under consultation.
2. Urban-Based: Urban-based communities can be defined using the influence radius
of existing Aboriginal community centres (eg. United Native Friendship Centres and
Metis Community Centres), by regional divisions of national Aboriginal organizations
(Assembly of First Nations, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
and Métis National Council) or, a working combination of Aboriginal community centres
and national Aboriginal organizations. A request will be made to the national, regional
or local office or governance to consult Elders or the council/group that has been
created to provide Elder-based guidance. The defined consultation process will need
to be ratified by the office or governance to whom the request was initially made.
B. National Consultation: Consultation of the Aboriginal Nation on a specific right
using the Elder-defined consultation procedure. The Nation Consultation has several
components starting with Elders. The final results of the national consultation will
need to be ratified by the national governance. The following are very basic examples
of national consultation for discussion purposes only.
a. Elder Consultation: Has two components;
i. Base: Elders speak on the right under consultation to provide definition, history
and a deep cultural understanding of the right; and,
ii. Bridge: Elders respond to specific questions on the right under consultation
which focusses answers to provide a bridge (link) between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
societies; between cultural knowledge and existing community, regional and global
infrastructure for the expression of the right.
b. Community Consultation: Results of the Elder consultation are presented in each
community. Community comments and concerns will identify and define cultural community
roles, citizen needs and, services and programs needed to express the right under
c. Special Council Consultation: Comments and concerns from special councils on results
of the Elder consultation will identify cultural special council roles and target
group-specific service and program needs based on the expression of the right under
consultation (eg. Women’s and Youth Councils);
d. Regional Resource Council Consultation: Results of the Elder, community and special
council consultations are presented to regional resource councils. Their comments
and concerns on practical application of results from the Elder consultation will
identify cultural regional resource council roles and needed infrastructure services
to provide programs identified in community and special council consultations; and,
e. Governing Council Consultation: Results of the Elder, community, special council
and regional resource council consultations are presented to the nation’s governing
council. Comments and concerns will identify cultural governing council roles and
legislative issues needed to realize the expression of the right under consultation.
2. Urban Based: The hierarchical structure of the urban-based consultation may be
very different then presented in this example. The primary reason for this is the
utilization of community centres under the jurisdiction of different national, provincial,
territorial or regional Aboriginal organizations which we will refer to collectively
as the Aboriginal Centre Under Consultation (ACUC). Where Elders, special councils
and governing bodies are located within these ACUCs will dramatically influence the
format of the national consultation.
a. Elder Consultation: Has the same two components as in the land-based national
i. Base: See earlier.
ii. Bridge: See earlier.
b. Community Consultation: The community will be defined using the influence radius
of the local community centre of the ACUC through which the consultation is occurring.
The result of the Elder consultation is presented. Community comments and concerns
will identify and define cultural community roles, citizen needs and, services and
programs needed to express the right under consultation;
c. Special Council Consultation: Comments and concerns from special councils associated
with the ACUC on results obtained with the Elder consultation will identify cultural
special council roles and target group-specific service and program needs based on
the expression of the right under consultation (eg. Women’s and Youth Councils);
d. ACUC Consultation: Results of the Elder, community and special council consultations
are presented to the ACUC. Comments and concerns will identify cultural ACUC roles
and legislative issues needed to realize the expression of the right under consultation.
3. Clear Measures of Success:
The first step in Meaningful Consultation, Nation Consultation, has clear goals.
Goal attainment is a clear measure of success. The first goal in Nation Consultation
is the successful completion of Elder seeking; or,
- To obtain a definition for the culturally-sensitive procedure for the national consultation
component of the Nation Consultation.
The second, and primary, goal in Nation Consultation is the completion of the national
- To obtain a database on Aboriginal culture.
The success of the database will be measured by its ability to:
- Be drawn on by institutions for research and as a base for non-Aboriginal understanding
and respect for Aboriginal culture, tradition, customs and rights; and,
- Be researched to specifically identify:
- Aboriginal citizens’ needs that can be met by the expression of Aboriginal culture
- Frameworks of Aboriginal societal infrastructure (authority, law, regulation and
services) that will allow the expression of Aboriginal culture and rights; and,
- Programs that will allow for Aboriginal needs to be met through the expression of
Aboriginal culture and rights.
A Nation Consultation that meets the above goals and measures of success will be
able to provide the database for the respect and reconciliation of Aboriginal rights
with non-Aboriginal rights.
The Nation Consultation has five basic requirements:
1. Aboriginal Nations to be consulted: Included are:
- Urban Community Centres;
- Special Councils;
- Resource Councils; and,
- Governing Councils.
2. Dedicated technical support: Due to the magnitude of data acquisition and processing,
the number of Nation Consultations that need to be undertaken across the country,
and the need for consistent, accountable data collection, a consultation infrastructure
must be put in place using a non-partizan, non-governmental organization (NGO) to
facilitate Nation Consultations.
3. Data handling system for:
- Nation monitoring during acquisition;
- Security and Transportation;
- Processing; and,
- Public Access.
4. Public Education Institution: to receive, house, provide access to, and maintain
the hard and electronic copies of the database upon completion. Copies are also given
to the Aboriginal Nation.
5. Funding: The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommends the
federal government fund the creation of consultation-based database56; common law
identified the requirement of federal, provincial and territorial governments to
provide technical assistance and funding during Aboriginal consultation98; and the
United Nations called for ways to provide Indigenous Peoples with access to technical
and financial resources to participate in consultation105. Costs will be incurred
by the Aboriginal nation and the NGO. Funding is needed for:
- Database Creation; and
- Database Maintenance.
5. Transparency and Accountability
Video and audio recorded during the Nation Consultations will be:
- Monitored live by the Nation;
- Unaltered data will be polished, translated and transcribed to text for use in the
- The database and summary reports of the database will be ratified by the Aboriginal
A dedicated non-partizan NGO will be used to provide technical expertise to create
the cultural database. A non-partizan NGO is used since it:
- Will not be guided or limited in the quality of work it can do for Aboriginal Nations
by a hidden policy;
- Can not profit from the results of its work;
- Is not controlled politically by Aboriginal leaders or the Canadian government;
- Will provide consistent professional facilitation and support to Aboriginal Nations;
- Will provide consistent data collection and processing for Aboriginal Nations;
- Can be transparent for both Aboriginal Nations and the Canadian government; and,
- Can be accountable to both Aboriginal Nations and the Canadian government.
The combination of live monitoring, polished but unaltered data, nation ratification
and the use of a non-partizan NGO will keep the Nation Consultation transparent and
See Reference Footnotes
© Christian Aboriginal Infrastructure Developments
Last Updated September 15, 2015