Mapping Traditional Territory and Securing Aboriginal Rights, Interests and Jurisdiction

In collaboration with North Raven Consulting, Nanda Law is proud to unveil an innovative new consultation tool for First Nations in Alberta. The tool combines technical GIS mapping with precise legal analysis to inform First Nations in Alberta of current and emerging impacts on their traditional territory and treaty rights. With this information, First Nations are better able to anticipate and craft strategies to assert their jurisdiction and interests, minimize encroachment, and maximize benefits.  

In Alberta, the traditional territories of First Nations are under threat by industrial development that often results in the erosion of Treaty rights in exchange for minimal compensation. Government and industry do not respect First Nations’ goals of protecting treaty and Aboriginal rights and maintaining the ability to practice important traditional land uses while also earning an economic livelihood from their traditional territories. They believe that First Nations cannot have both.
To defend their jurisdiction, rights and interests, while adapting to a changing way of life, First Nations must engage in a comprehensive and precise assessment of the threats that exist to their traditional territories, and develop maps and tools that will assist in negotiations with government and industry to minimize impacts and maximize benefits in traditional territories. Only by fully understanding the nature, scope and extent of the threats faced, can First Nations develop and advance a plan to assert their interests and jurisdiction.
To do this, North Raven Consulting and Nanda Law propose an innovative new tool that will include the following components:
1) Full-scale mapping of the traditional territory to highlight First Nation interests, rights corridors and other areas of importance;
2) Identifying spatial and non-spatial government and industry plans (“Plans”) that impact the interests and jurisdiction of the First Nation within their traditional territory;
3) Layering Plans on the traditional territory map, and identifying details and overlaps between First Nation interests and rights with Plans;
4) Applying remote sensing to priority areas to visually display how much industrial disturbance has occurred over the last three decades;
5) Conducting a thorough legal audit of the traditional territory in relation to the Plans and impact on the interests and jurisdiction of the First Nation; and
6) Developing strategies to minimize impacts and maximize benefits from the Plans within the traditional territory.
This tool provides First Nations the foundation to defend their traditional territory, and ensure their jurisdiction, rights and interests are protected for future generations. A drop in oil prices has temporarily slowed industrial development in Alberta, making now an ideal time for First Nations to use their scarce resources to press for better protection to their traditional territories as well as better benefits from their traditional territories.
Deliverables will include:
• A final report on the project with a stand-alone appendix containing results in maps and tables that can be used in negotiations,
• Large (36’’x24’’) hard copies of all maps, which can be used in negotiations, made during the project, and
• A presentation of the project findings to the Chief and Council and the Consultation Coordinator.
(From the Executive Summary of Joint Technical-Legal Proposal for First Nations: Mapping Traditional Territory and Securing Aboriginal Rights, Interests and Jurisdiction, prepared by North Raven Consulting and Nanda Law)

The current economic climate in Alberta presents First Nations with an excellent opportunity to invest in strategic tools to ensure that when development accelerates, they will be ready to respond and effectively participate in consultation frameworks. If you are interested in learning more about this unique tool, please contact Nanda Law.