A planning framework for collaboration and meaningful participation of aboriginal peoples in environmental decision making practices and conflict resolution

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This research evaluates, develops and builds upon approaches for the inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives within environmental decision making practices and grievance resolution processes. The objective is to identify appropriate methods and protocols for effective collaboration drawing from the experience, interpretations and perspectives of both cultural groups. Through a case study analysis of Ontario Hydro's restructuring of Aboriginal/corporate relations during the early 1990s, this research identifies the pre-conditions which made collaboration possible and the adaptive management strategies that created the space for constructive and meaningful dialogue. As an interdisciplinary study, this research combines both indigenous and western knowledge systems. It draws from the perspectives of collaboration, co-operative planning, cross-cultural communication and indigenous concepts regarding organizational response to problem solving to identify appropriate processes, structures and communication styles. A planning framework is presented which consists of four distinct yet inter-connected component parts conceptualized as: (1) Acceptance of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, (2) A Comprehensive Program, (3) Meaningful Participation and (4) Mutual Benefit (Peterson, 1992). This framework evolved from the political context of the Ontario Government's Statement of Political Relations (1991) which recognized First Nations as governments and is evaluated for its relevance in the post Delgamuukw legal climate regarding the duty to consult and the requirement for meaningful consultation. The case study incorporates content analysis of primary and secondary documents, interviews with key participants, and reflections on the events that unfolded at Hydro in response to (1) the Statement of Political Relations, (2) Aboriginal demands for past grievance resolution with Ontario Hydro, and (3) the development of appropriate consultation mechanisms for Aboriginal involvement in their Environmental Assessment processes. The knowledge enhancement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants is examined for their effectiveness to create greater communication, mutual understanding and the translation into actions agreeable to both parties. This research contributes to understanding the nature of effective collaborative processes within the Aboriginal/Canadian context by identifying attributes and protocols that make it effective and sustainable. Building knowledge about cross-cultural communication and co-operative decision making will facilitate positive wide-reaching change to improve the effectiveness of program and policy decisions.
Bibliography: p. 274-286
Peterson, K. (2003). A planning framework for collaboration and meaningful participation of aboriginal peoples in environmental decision making practices and conflict resolution (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/13676