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Government of Manitoba
Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs

Crown Consultations With Aboriginal Peoples

The Government of Manitoba recognizes it has a duty to consult in a meaningful way with Aboriginal communities when any proposed provincial law, regulation, decision or action may infringe upon or adversely affect the exercise of a treaty or Aboriginal right of that Aboriginal community.

Aboriginal peoples are defined in Subsection 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982, as the Indian (First Nations), Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

Background

Subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, provides that "the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed."

Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, have made judgments clarifying the meaning of section 35. One element of these judgments is the recognition that the Crown has a legal duty to consult with Aboriginal peoples about any action or decision (including enacting a law or regulation) that might adversely affect the exercise of an Aboriginal or treaty right, before taking that action or making that decision. The Crown must also reasonably accommodate concerns about the effects of the decision or action raised in the consultation by the Aboriginal peoples, by attempting to substantially address those concerns. This duty of consultation and accommodation arises out of the principle of the "honour of the Crown"; the Crown is to act honourably and in good faith in its relationships with Aboriginal peoples.

One of the main goals of the Crown-Aboriginal relationship is to further the reconciliation of the pre-existence of Aboriginal societies with the sovereignty of the Crown.

Initiatives / Activities

The Government of Manitoba has undertaken the following to facilitate Crown- Aboriginal consultations and fulfill the Crown's Constitutional obligation to Aboriginal peoples:

  • Developed an Interim Provincial Policy and Guidelines for Crown Consultations with First Nations, Métis Communities and Other Aboriginal Communities in 2009. The interim policy is a reflection and recognition of Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the case law that has developed in this area. The interim guidelines are a reflection of Manitoba's experience to date along with feedback received from Aboriginal organizations from across Manitoba on the draft Policy and Guidelines for Crown Consultations with Aboriginal Peoples. Discussions will continue at various levels and over time to ensure the policy and guidelines reflect the most current case law and experience;
  • The Crown Aboriginal Consultation Participation Fund was established to help communities and others participate more effectively in specific Crown-Aboriginal consultations with the Manitoba Government by providing for community costs. The Crown Aboriginal Consultation Participation Fund Community Guide provides detailed information on how the Fund may be accessed for specific Crown-Aboriginal consultations, eligible activities and the approved rate structure for the Fund.
  • Formed an Interdepartmental Working Group on Crown-Aboriginal Consultations which includes representatives from the following departments:

    • Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs
    • Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives
    • Manitoba Conservation
    • Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism
    • Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation
    • Manitoba Local Government
    • Manitoba Justice
    • Manitoba Innovation, Energy and Mines
    • Manitoba Water Stewardship
    • Treasury Board Secretariat
    • Aboriginal Issues Committee of Cabinet

    This working group is assisting Manitoba to move forward in Crown- Aboriginal consultations by bringing together departmental staff who have gained experience and expertise in this area. The IDWG advises departments, branches, regions and government decision-makers on policies and procedures for Crown-Aboriginal consultations; and,
  • Established an Aboriginal Consultation Unit (ACU), located within the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat of the Manitoba Department of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs. The ACU works to ensure that Crown consultations are conducted in a meaningful way with First Nations and Aboriginal communities about government decisions that might adversely affect the exercise of Aboriginal and treaty rights.

For more information please contact ...

Aboriginal Consultation Unit
Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat
Department of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs
Government of Manitoba
Telephone: 1-800-282-8069 or 204-945-5236
200 - 500 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB | R3C 3X1

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