guarantees indigenous rights; that’s first and foremost,” explains Lawrence Aimoe, execu-tive director of operations for the Aboriginal Consultation Office of the Government of Alberta, which works closely with Alberta’s Ministry of Environment and Parks, the ministry responsible for ensuring consul-tation is done with the local rights bearing communities. “Anytime the Crown is going to use Crown land – and change the face of the land – there has to be discussion with the impacted nations and whoever else holds in-digenous rights. So it’s not just First Nations, it could be the Metis as well.” The main reason consultation is so im-portant is to try and prevent the disrup-tion of a peoples’ day-to-day lives, their burial grounds and the destruction of an-cient artifacts. process as those digging on land owned by the Crown. “Our duty is for Crown land, but in terms of best practices, even when you’re digging somewhere that’s not Crown land it doesn’t hurt to consult with the neighbours to see what you might find,” Aimoe says. “Once you uncover a burial ground that could delay your project for some time.” When operating on private lands, con-sulting with indigenous peoples can pre-vent a variety of delays in an operation. The initial delay that occurs if a burial ground is unearthed is to have tests per-formed to check if the bones were prehis-toric or more recently buried. “If it’s not recent, then it’s the determi-nation of who the people are and who they belong to,” Aimoe explains, adding that ground that has been unearthed, making the effort to consult in advance of a proj-ect’s startup can help build positive rap-port with the peoples a company may later need to work with to resolve issues. Another way companies can build posi-tive rapport with a local population is by offering to make them a partner in a proj-ect, allowing them to have some ownership while generating jobs and revenue. “There are a lot of nations that are able to enter into partnerships like that… you may also uncover some excellent employees for your company,” Aimoe says. CONSULT OFTEN, AND FROM AFAR Sometimes a company is required to per-form land consultations with indigenous groups that live a significant number of miles away from a dig site. But there is good reason for this. “We get feedback from companies that say they don’t understand why they are consulting with a nation that’s a number of miles away from where they are going to dig, but one of the things about indigenous communities is they often move over time to find food, or move because waterways change… there was a very nomadic lifestyle to many of the nations,” Aimoe explains. One big source of frustration for First Nations communities and other indig-enous peoples is when a company drops by a band office for a consultation one day, and never returns to offer updates on a site they could be spending upwards of several years extracting resources from. Consulta-tion needs to happen throughout the life of a project, Aimoe says, especially when it comes to land reclamation. “When doing reclamation, make sure it’s almost a partnership between the envi-ronment folks and the contractor to make sure they get it right,” he says. “The less of a footprint left behind, the better.” If there’s any one thing Aimoe hopes people take away from this article, it is that it is very important to communicate with the nearby communities before starting up an operation anywhere in Canada. “It could really delay plans if that con-stitutional requirement is not addressed – this applies to the whole country. Just be a good neighbour and a good steward of the land.” > “Once you uncover a burial ground that could delay your project for some time.” once a site is determined prehistoric that it becomes an anthropological dig. “One prehistoric site uncovered had indigenous people in it from 15 separate First Na-tions, thus, it required those 15 nations to work with the government to perform ceremony and re-bury their ancestors.” “Long before gravel was dug up for roads, the roads were the waterways of the country. That’s been going on for thou-sands of years,” Aimoe explains. “As a re-sult of that, that’s where many indigenous people travelled – not just in this coun-try, but many countries – and as a result of that, quite often encampments or what we refer to as small towns or villages were there. Along with that comes the issues that many villages or places have when you lose people due to age, sickness or otherwise – what do they do with them?” Many of the indigenous peoples who passed away over the years were buried in the ground close to the waterways. “Many of the times we’ve been digging into the earth where we’ve uncovered hu-man remains, many of them turn out to be pre-historic,” Aimoe says. “The distur-bance of any burial ground is never a good thing. The consultation process can ad-dress that… a lot of the elders still carry the knowledge of where people were buried or the meeting places of the nations over the years; and that kind of information obvi-ously would be invaluable to any company that is planning on digging anywhere.” BUILDING RAPPORT Even when following best practices, not all situations can be avoided. Sometimes out of ignorance with no malicious intent, work-ers come across geo caches when digging the land. These are also known as “borrow-ing man” caches – which have been occur-ring in indigenous communities for thou-sands of years – and dispose of them due to their appearance. Aimoe says that some who come across them said they thought garbage was dumped on the site – since more recent caches can have flashlight bat-teries, gasoline and a variety of other items for people living on the land to borrow so they can get to their destination. “When you’re doing a dig and your people come across something like that… it’s hard to recognize it as a sacred sight, but it’s definitely a cultural sight,” Aimoe explains, adding that this is a prime ex-ample of why consulting with the local peoples is so important. “Disturb a site and it could get you into trouble.” Whether it is a geo cache or a burial DIGGING ON PRIVATE LAND Companies planning on starting up ag-gregate operations on private lands can benefit just as much from the consultation 28 | ROCKTOROAD | MAY/JUNE 2017 For the latest industry news, visit www.rocktoroad.com.