A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Natural Resources Canada and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was signed on August 14, 2009. This MOU clarifies the roles and responsibilities of NRCan and the NWMO with respect to any obligation for consultations with Aboriginal people, pursuant to the Government’s duty to consult and the NWMO’s statutory obligations in relation to the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act.
This MOU covers the period during that part of NWMO’s work that precedes the identification of a site for the Project.
The following questions and answers provide additional information about the content of the MOU.
Questions & Answers:
What is the purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding?
The MOU is intended to clarify the roles and responsibilities of NRCan and the NWMO with respect to Aboriginal consultations, pursuant to the Government’s duty to consult, and accommodate if necessary, and the NWMO’s statutory obligations under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act.
What are the NWMO’s obligations under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act?
The NWMO is obliged under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act to consult with Canadians and Aboriginal people throughout the implementation the Adaptive Phased Management (APM) approach — Canada’s safe, secure plan for managing nuclear fuel waste over the long term. It is also required to report to the Minister of Natural Resources on the results of its public consultations every three years.
What are NRCan’s obligations under the MOU?
NRCan is responsible for:
- monitoring engagement activities carried out by the NWMO in relation to Aboriginal people;
- 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 the NWMO informed of any interactions the Crown may have with Aboriginal people in relation to the NWMO’s work.
The Government has a legal duty to consult with Aboriginal people and accommodate, if required, when an Aboriginal or treaty right may be adversely affected by conduct contemplated by the Government.
How will NRCan oversee the engagement activities carried out by the NWMO in relation to Aboriginal people?
The Crown will monitor, review and provide feedback, if required, on the NWMO engagement activities with Aboriginal people throughout the implementation of the APM approach. Under the MOU, the NWMO will submit to NRCan, by March 31 of each year, a report outlining its engagement activities with Aboriginal people for the previous year and an overview of its proposed activities for the upcoming year, as well as records supporting its activities related to Aboriginal engagement. The NWMO will also provide regular briefings to the NRCan on its engagement activities.
Is there a requirement for NRCan to monitor what the NWMO is doing with regard to its early engagement with Aboriginal people?
Yes. NRCan is required to monitor and assess the NWMO’s plan toward implementing the Adaptive Phased Management (APM) approach, including its plan for consulting with Aboriginal people. As part of its review, NRCan will also look at whether there is a need for the Crown to supplement NWMO’s activities.
Does legislation require the NWMO to report on its consultation activities?
Yes. Pursuant to the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, the NWMO is required to report in its triennial report the results of public consultations during three fiscal years, including an analysis of significant socio-economic effects of those activities on a community’s way of life or on its social, cultural or economic aspirations.