OSPE is pleased to see Engineers Canada has released their Guideline on Indigenous Consultation and Engagement, a resource intended for use by all engineers operating in Canada.
While consultation with Indigenous communities is now legally required in Canada, at OSPE we believe this is only the first step towards meaningful change.
Consultation has to mean more than just meeting a minimum standard. It should mean engagement, including actively working to build relationships and seeking mutually beneficial outcomes for Indigenous communities of operations, and engineers. This Guideline outlines an approach to engagement and presents a step in the right direction towards reconciliation between Canada’s Indigenous communities and the profession of engineering.
The process of consultation, engagement, and reconciliation must crucially involve an acknowledgment of past harm and wrongdoings. OSPE acknowledges the deep harm that has been caused by the engineering profession through discriminatory practices that ignored the rights of Indigenous Peoples as the stewards of their lands and denied them free, prior, and informed consent.
We encourage all our members, and the engineering community to reflect on their relationships with Indigenous communities and with the histories of the lands where they live and work. OSPE is committed to acting as an ally to Indigenous Peoples and calls on the engineering sector and corporate sector to more broadly adopt recommendation 92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. (excerpted below)
92. We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:
i. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
ii. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.