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5 Principles for Effective Indigenous Engagement

Updated: May 5




Aanii, Boozhoo


Welcome to our offices in Curve Lake First Nation about an hour and a half Northeast of Toronto.


My name is Mike Jacobs and I am the CEO of CIPS (Cambium Indigenous Professional Services) and I am really happy to be here with you today to discuss Brownfield Projects and Indigenous Inclusion and to bring to bring that perspective to our roundtable discussion a little bit later.


We were asked to comment on the Pandemic and how it might affect business and what we're doing.


When it comes to Indigenous Inclusion, although the way we do business might have changed a little bit, meaning that we have new tools to engage and to consult (and to include) and encourage participation.


Related: Myth busters: Indigenous edition #1


The reality is that not much has changed in the need for inclusion, participation, engagement and consultation when it comes to Indigenous Communities.


There hasn't been a big, significant shift for anything when it comes to this so what I'd thought I'd do is introduce 5 principles that I think are really important to Indigenous Inclusion and Brownfield Projects. We can dive a lot deeper into those as we move along in our session today.


For me, there are 5 key (Indigenous Engagement) principles that you want to hold on to. I sort of tilt them a little bit to Brownfield Developments so that they're a little more relevant

to you today.


Principle 1: Always include real, Indigenous Engagement and Participation Early


What I mean by "real" is, is that you just can't send a paper. You just can't send a letter or a piece of paper, a note or make a call and say "there, we have our Indigenous Engagement".


You want to have real, fulsome discussion, thought exchanges and exchange of ideas which I think your project outcomes will be much better.


When I talk about early, it's at the visioning stage. Not after the designs have been done and say "please comment on these designs".


All of the work that has gone in there, we now have to catch up and when you're catching up you don't know whether all the information has been presented.


If we get in there early it's a lot better.


That's one principle that I'd like you to hold onto.


Related: 3 ways to effective communicate technical information to First Nations communities


Principle 2: Give Fulsome, Truthful Information That is Understood by Indigenous Stakeholders


"But Mike, we're always giving truthful information - what do you mean by that?".


It means that all of the information, the transparency of the information - Make sure that it's there presented in a real way.


It's pretty easy to do a presentation and skim over some of the minor details that "might" matter but we want to know what those details are because they may matter.


If they do matter and we don't see them than we may think you are being dishonest or not being truthful with us as Indigenous participants.


The other thing is we need to have that information understood. If the information isn't understood and we get down the road and say "we understood it this way" and you say "we understood it that way", the idea of trust and truth comes to light again.


You may be asked to help us to understand that.


We may not have that technical capacity for certain contaminants or volumes of contaminants within our offices so we may need that support. Think that you may be providing that support as well.


Related: The duty to consult and accommodate primer: Where do we begin?


Principle 3: Include Traditional Knowledge in Environmental and Land Assessments


You MUST include Traditional Knowledge in environmental and land assessments. You may say "why do I need that?"


Traditional Knowledge will give you more information.


More information is always better than less when it comes to making a determination about what you're going to do with a site.


If you have more information, if you have a more fulsome view (and a more well rounded view) of the contaminants, the land, the animals, the plants, the people, if you got a real overlooking view of all these things together, like the Indigenous Knowledge will give you're going to have a better project outcome at the end.


You're going to have more understanding and more knowledge. Related: Indigenous awareness training: A foundation for success


Principle 4: Ensure Indigenous Participation in Re-Use Determinations


If you're looking for social return on an investment (which many of us are now), what you want to do is make sure to include Indigenous Participation whether it be cultural participation, financial participation, human resource participation or all of the above.


Your project is going to be better, it's going to be better received. It may actually touch on some funding that you weren't actually eligible for otherwise. You may actually get cost

advantages as a result, which can be helpful.


Related: Strategic planning and proposal writing services


Principle 5: Secure Active, Indigenous Participants (Partners) in Redevelopment Implementation Activities


When you're implementing your activities, ensure there's Indigenous participation. I have partners in brackets and that's the preferred method, right? It is to make sure you have Indigenous partners but I'm a bit softer than others in that. If you have Indigenous participation, your outcomes are going to be better - All of the outcomes are going to be better.

Related: Doing Business with First Nations: A Beginners Guide


Make sure you have those inclusions.


These 5 principles I want to drill down a little bit more on when we have our round table discussion.


Now, you might be saying "That's great Mike but can you give us a little bit about how we do this? where do I start?"


One - Actively ask the questions. Find Indigenous stakeholders and ask them the questions about how, who, what, where and why. Ask those questions. That's going to build trust, it's going to build relationships and you're going to get the outcomes you want.


I'm looking forward to the round table discussion and I look forward to the rest of this session. Thanks to CBN for this opportunity. To find out more about our Indigenous Awareness Training, please click here.


5 Indigenous Engagement Principles


1) Always include real, Indigenous Engagement and participation early ;

2) Give fulsome, truthful information that is understood by Indigenous Stakeholders;

3) Include Traditional Knowledge in environmental and land assessments;

4) Ensure Indigenous Participation in re-use determinations ;

5) Secure active, Indigenous Participants (Partners) in redevelopment implementation activities;



Other articles you may enjoy: Working With Indigenous Communities Community Energy Planning for First Nations


Why is Indigenous Awareness Important?

To find out how we can help you with your Indigenous Engagement activities, please see our web page Indigenous Engagement Training or contact us at: (705) 657-1126

Email: spirit@indigenousaware.com

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