Aboriginal Communities/Mineral Companies/Governments Working Together: A Checklist to Assist Mineral Companies Active in Areas Near Aboriginal Communities

The following checklist has been developed to provide interested companies with some guidance. Its purpose is to ensure that the company's relationship with Aboriginal people will be productive and mutually beneficial.

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In the last few years, many companies involved in the mining industry have contacted governments and expressed a willingness to learn about, communicate with, and work with Aboriginal people.

The following checklist has been developed to provide interested companies with some guidance. Its purpose is to ensure that the company’s relationship with Aboriginal people will be productive and mutually beneficial.

These guidelines are applicable at all stages of the mining process: staking, exploration, development and mine operation, as well as closure and rehabilitation. However, consultation is fact-driven; therefore, scope and content will vary depending on the nature and stage of the project. The guidelines should also prove helpful if a company becomes involved in a project at an advanced stage. In the event of a change of ownership, it is important that the lines of communications remain open. It is important to stress that, in order to build trust between the mining/exploration company and the local people, community consultations should be done in person and should start as early in the process as possible.

It should be noted that since much of the information mentioned in this brochure is available from the various levels of government, a list of contacts has been included.

The term "Aboriginal people" refers to the descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada. Aboriginal people are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, as indigenous people including Indians, Métis and Inuit.

Reasons to Contact Local Aboriginal People

  • legal, land claim agreement or regulatory approval process requirements

  • respect (e.g., your company wishes to explore or develop a site on or near the traditional land of local Aboriginal people)

  • to inform local Aboriginal people of your company’s prospective activities

  • to determine if there are any conflicts or potential conflicts with Aboriginal and treaty rights (e.g., wildlife harvesting) or title (whether claimed or confirmed)

  • to learn of their concerns about the project and consider how to mitigate them

  • to ensure their understanding of the project

  • to learn about the availability of local labour, businesses, and services, as well as opportunities for partnerships

  • to learn about the need for and availability of training programs

  • it is a good business practice

Before Staking

Learn the rules and regulations (if any) that might affect your dealings with local Aboriginal people

  • confirm who owns the sub-surface minerals in the area to be staked

  • consult provincial/territorial rules or regulations regarding Aboriginal people (e.g., is a formal Impact and Benefits Agreement or human resource plan mandatory or discretionary?)

  • verify the status of land claims or self-government agreements; pending or settled; obtain and read copies of these settled agreements

  • evaluate the effect, if any, a settled land claim may have on what your company is planning to do

  • confirm if some other type of agreement is in force that may affect your project (e.g., interim measures agreement)

  • learn about the availability of government programs to encourage Aboriginal participation in your project

  • determine the location of withdrawn areas (e.g., protected areas, parks, etc.)

Before Initial Contact

Learn about local Aboriginal people

  • the name and location of all affected Aboriginal communities or Aboriginal groups (e.g., First Nations)

  • the location of nearby Indian Reserves, populated or unpopulated

  • the location of lands or bodies of water that Aboriginal people either own or traditionally use

  • who to contact (e.g., name of the Band Chief, Mayor, or designated consultation contact, etc.)

  • the location of areas of cultural significance (e.g., burial grounds or other heritage sites)

  • the linguistic affiliation (translation is essential); without a common language there is no communication; ensure both parties have the same meaning for the words they use

  • particularly positive or negative past experiences with exploration or mining companies or with other types of development

  • the governance structure of local groups

  • the consultation protocols or processes of local groups

  • cultural activities, such as a community moose hunt or pilgrimage, during which local groups may not be available

Who to Contact

  • if all possible do all community consultation in person

  • given that the area of traditional use may be extensive and may overlap, you may have to meet with people from a number of affected Aboriginal communities; be prepared to have several meetings

  • initial contact should be made with all or any of the following:

    • the Mayor, Band Chief, Band and/or Tribal Councils, etc.
    • local economic development or employment officer
    • industry relations, environment and/or development officerr
    • Chair and/or Board of Directors of Aboriginal Development Corporation (s)

  • contact should also be made with the general public through:

    • public information sessions
    • town hall meetings or question and answer sessions
    • local education boards

  • in addition to direct notification, use the local media, including the Aboriginal press (if available), to inform the community(ies) about what your company is doing or planning to do

  • information provided to Aboriginal groups should describe your projects and its impacts in plain language

  • the use of visual representations of the subject to be discussed is also recommended

What to Inform the Local Aboriginal People About

  • what the company is planning to do and how it will do it (e.g., staking, exploration, development of a deposit, purchase company, environmental assessment, etc.)

  • actual or approximate location of planned operation

  • depending on whether the company is at the exploration or development phase, discuss details of the proposed activity or operation:

    • minerals being looked for or developed

    • type of mine (e.g., open-pit or underground)

    • type of accommodation (e.g., townsite or fly-in/fly-out)

    • size of labour force, education and skills required

    • possible opportunities for Aboriginal peoples (employment, training, contracting and local business opportunities)

    • location of hiring office

    • planned crew rotations or shift schedules

    • discuss your thoughts about agreements such as a memorandum of understanding, a cooperation agreement or an Impact and Benefits Agreement

    • for a more advanced project, even if a formal Impact and Benefits Agreement is not required, think about the advisability of entering into a voluntary one to circumvent false expectations

    • if known, possible impacts the project may have on the community and Aboriginal and/or treaty rights

    • provide information on your consultation process

    • How long is the process?

    • How much time does the community have to provide feedback?

    • Should concerns be expressed in writing?

    • potential environmental problems or concerns and proposed mitigation measures

What to Learn From Local Aboriginal People

  • the availability and make-up of the local labour force
    – education, training, skill levels, etc.

  • if you plan a pro-active Aboriginal hiring program, seek guidance from the community about a possible Native employment coordinator

  • the availability and nature of local businesses
    – potential sources of construction materials, services contracts, joint ventures, etc.

  • their needs, expectations and concerns about possible environmental, social and economic impacts and their ideas on mitigation if impacts are foreseen

  • would they like to enter into an agreement
    – memorandum of understanding, Impact and Benefits Agreement, etc.

  • traditional knowledge and other local knowledge

  • their consultation protocols or processes, if they are in place

Continue Contact Throughout all Stages of the Project

  • to ensure that the good relationship developed at the beginning continues

  • to address new issues and remain flexible to account for changing circumstances and new information

  • to report on how you are dealing with their concerns

  • also, if taking over from another company

  • also, document all aspects of the consultation process, including contacts with Aboriginal groups and information received from Aboriginal communities


National Headquarters of Aboriginal Organizations

Assembly of First Nations  
Ottawa, Ontario
(613) 241-6789

The Congress of Aboriginal People  
Ottawa, Ontario
(613) 747–6022

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami 
Ottawa, Ontario
(613) 238-8181

Métis National Council  
Ottawa, Ontario
(613) 232-3216

Native Women’s Association of Canada  
Ohsweken, Ontario
(519) 445–0990

National Headquarters of Mining Associations

Mining Association of Canada 
Ottawa, Ontario
(613) 233-9391

Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada  
Toronto, Ontario
(416) 362-1969

Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association  
Toronto, Ontario
(416) 925–0866
Toll-free: 1–800–443–6452

Federal, Provincial & Territorial Government Departments


Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Gatineau (Québec)
(819) 997-0380

Regional Offices:
Amherst, NS (Atlantic Canada)
(902) 661-6209

Québec City, QC

Toronto, Ont.
(416) 973-6234

Winnipeg, Man.
(204) 983–4928

Regina, Sask.
(306) 780-5945

Edmonton, Alta.
(780) 495-2773

Vancouver, B.C.
(604) 775–5100

Whitehorse, YT
(867) 667–3888

Yellowknife, NWT
(867) 669–2500

Iqaluit, NU
(867) 975–4500

Natural Resources Canada (Minerals and Metals Sector)  
(613) 947–6580


British Columbia
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources  
Victoria, British Columbia
(250) 952–0596

Aboriginal Relations, Department of Energy  
Edmonton, Alberta
(780) 427–5110

Department of Environment  
Regina, Saskatchewan
(306) 953–3750

Department of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines  
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Toll Free: 1–800–223–5215 or (204) 945–6569

Department of Northern Development and Mines
Sudbury, Ontario
(705) 670–5755

Direction générale du développement minéral, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune  
Québec City, Quebec
Toll-free: 1–800–463–3357

New Brunswick
Minerals and Petroleum Development Branch, Department of Natural Resources  
Fredericton, New Brunswick
(506) 453–2206

Nova Scotia
Office of Aboriginal Affairs  
Halifax, Nova Scotia
(902) 424-4931

Department of Energy and Mines  
St. John's, Newfoundland
(709) 729-6616


Department of Energy, Mines and Resources  
Whitehorse, Yukon
(867) 667–8428

Northwest Territories
Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment  
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
(867) 920–3343

Minerals and Petroleum Resources Division, Department of Economic Development and Transporation  
Mineral and Oil and Gas Division
Iqaluit, Nunavut
(867) 975–7802