The interests, concerns and counsel of Aboriginal peoples have been an integral part of the NWMO's work from the start. It began as we studied options for the long-term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel. It has continued throughout the implementation of all aspects of Adaptive Phased Management.

Through our work with Aboriginal communities, we seek to understand how the project might benefit each region under consideration, and be respectful of Aboriginal and treaty rights. We also seek to apply Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to both technical safety and community well-being aspects of the site selection process.

A Memorandum of Understanding between Natural Resources Canada and the NWMO was signed on August 14, 2009. It clarifies the roles and responsibilities of each party with respect to any obligation for consultations with Aboriginal peoples.

As our mandate progresses, we will ensure ongoing, active and meaningful collaboration. We have developed an Aboriginal Policy to inform this collaboration. Our engagement is informed by the Council of Elders, an advisory body to NWMO management.

Public Information Material in Aboriginal Languages

Throughout our work, we have been advised to develop communications that are culturally appropriate and that we should translate them when possible. We prepared a 20-minute video on Canada's plan entitled "Moving Forward Together: The Future Management of Canada's Used Nuclear Fuel," and it is available in our multimedia section in eight Aboriginal languages. You can also find other brochures in that section that have been translated.

Memorandum of Understanding (2009)

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the NWMO was signed on August 14, 2009. It clarifies the roles and responsibilities of NRCan and the NWMO with respect to consultations with Aboriginal peoples, pursuant to the Government’s duty to consult, and accommodate if necessary, and the NWMO’s statutory obligations under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA). The MOU covers the period of our work that precedes the identification of a site to host the project.

Our Obligations Under the NFWA

The NWMO is obliged under the NFWA to consult with Canadians and Aboriginal peoples throughout the implementation of Adaptive Phased Management (APM). We are also required to report to the Minister of Natural Resources every year on the results of our public consultations.

Our Obligations Under the MOU

The NWMO is responsible for:

  • Continuing to work with Aboriginal peoples regarding our work prior to the identification of a site for the project;
  • Informing Aboriginal peoples during engagement activities that we will keep the Crown informed on our engagement activities;
  • Submitting to NRCan, by March 31 of each year, a report outlining our engagement activities with Aboriginal peoples for the previous year and an overview of our proposed activities for the upcoming year, as well as records supporting our activities related to Aboriginal engagement;
  • Providing regular briefings to the NRCan on our engagement activities;
  • Maintaining a record of the engagement activities we carry out in relation to Aboriginal peoples prior to the identification of a site for the project;
  • Advising the Crown in a timely fashion of any concerns raised by Aboriginal peoples that appear to be beyond the project and our scope and responsibility; and
  • Providing the Crown with notice of communities that formally express interest in hosting the project (after the site selection process has been initiated) in a timely fashion.

NRCan’s Obligations Under the MOU

NRCan is responsible for:

  • Monitoring engagement activities we carried out in relation to Aboriginal peoples;
  • Assessing the need for consultations that may be necessary to meet the Government’s duty to consult;
  • Seeking assistance from other appropriate Government entities as required; and
  • Keeping us informed of any interactions the Crown may have with Aboriginal peoples in relation to our work.

The Government has a legal duty to consult with Aboriginal peoples and accommodate, if required, when an Aboriginal treaty or right may be adversely affected by conduct contemplated by the Government.

The Crown will monitor, review and provide feedback, if required, on our engagement activities with Aboriginal peoples throughout the implementation of the APM approach. Under the MOU, we will submit to NRCan, by March 31 of each year, a report outlining our engagement activities with Aboriginal peoples for the previous year and an overview of our proposed activities for the upcoming year, as well as records supporting our activities related to Aboriginal engagement. We will also provide regular briefings to NRCan on our engagement activities.

Submissions From Aboriginal Organizations

Over the years, a number of First Nation and Métis organizations have gotten involved in learning about Canada's long-term plan for the safe management of used nuclear fuel. In some cases, they have taken part in learning activities. Some groups have undertaken special studies and developed tool kits to help inform various aspects of the project. These are available below.

Additional Documents and Reports