Resource extraction from the traditional lands of Aboriginal peoples without appropriate consideration for traditional land use activities has transformed social and cultural structures, compromised economies, and restricted access to resources. Industrial intrusion into the traditional lands of Fort McKay First Nation, located within the Athabasca oil sands region of northern Alberta, reveals the need to develop an effective approach for consultation that addresses the implications of resource extraction for traditional activities and associated social and cultural values. This MDP establishes that existing frameworks do not recognize the rights of Aboriginal people and do not meet the standards for consultation set by the courts. Current approaches to the assessment of impacts on traditional land use are inadequate due to their lack of recognition of what landscapes are most important to the community. A Culturally Significant Ecosystem (CSE) approach is developed to define patterns of resource harvesting according to intensity of use, an approach that is founded in the values and interests of community in the use of natural resources and geographic distribution of harvesting activities. A more appropriate development assessment framework is proposed, one that relies on a CSE approach, the development of a communitybased environmental management strategy, and is cognizant of the rights of Aboriginal peoples. This framework represents a movement from consultation toward true participation of the community, and recognizes both the desire and ability of Aboriginal people to make decisions about what affects their lives and their livelihoods.
Bibliography: p. 96-108