Aboriginal Consultation Office Q&As

Aboriginal Consultation Office and Aboriginal Consultation Policy

What is the Aboriginal Consultation Office?

Under The Government of Alberta’s Policy on Consultation with First Nations on Land and Resource Management, 2013 Alberta has created the Aboriginal Consultation Office (ACO). The ACO, administered by the Ministry of Indigenous Relations, was established to provide consultation management services to meet the needs of GoA ministries, First Nations, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), and project proponents in a way that is efficient, coordinated, and consistent.

What will the ACO do?

On November 1, 2013, the ACO merged existing consultation and advisory services from Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s (ESRD) Stewardship Branch with other services provided by Aboriginal Relations’ Consultation and Land Claims Division to strengthen Alberta’s role in managing aspects of the First Nations consultation process, including:

  • Policy development and implementation
  • Pre-consultation assessment
  • Management and execution of the consultation process
  • Assessment of consultation adequacy
  • Consultation capacity building initiatives with First Nations

The ACO aligns with the AER and the regulatory ministries. The Government of Alberta is committed to ensuring First Nations’ Treaty rights and traditional uses are respected in all matters regarding land and natural resource management in the province.

How will the ACO work with the Alberta Energy Regulator?

Direction on ACO and AER interaction is described in the Ministerial Order on Aboriginal Consultation Direction (Ministerial Order 105/2014, 31 October 2014) that was put in place by Alberta Energy and may be amended or replaced from time to time. The ACO’s determination of consultation adequacy is required before the AER can make a final decision under the Specified Enactments (Mines and Minerals, Public Lands, Water, and Environmental Protection and Enhancement acts). As per the Guidelines, the ACO works closely with the AER to ensure that consultation required for applications made to the AER under the Specified Enactments occurs prior to the AER’s regulatory decision. The ACO, when appropriate, will provide the AER with advice relating to the mitigation of potential impacts to Treaty rights and traditional uses.

Statements of Concern received by the AER from First Nations or other Aboriginal groups or individuals will be provided to the ACO for analysis. The ACO and AER are developing Joint Operating Procedures which define procedures for the administration and coordination of ACO and AER operations.

System performance, including both consultation and regulatory processes, over the coming season will inform future improvements in process efficiency while maintaining the ACO’s and AER’s ability to deliver their respective mandates.

Will the ACO be aligned with Canada and other jurisdictions?

Consultation may involve coordination across jurisdictions, departments, agencies, and processes. The ACO will enhance cross-government working relationships, leading to stronger and more coordinated consultation efforts. To serve this purpose, the ACO will work towards developing coordination processes with other provincial and territorial governments, Canada, or agencies of government, thereby ensuring increased information-sharing and greater cross-jurisdictional collaboration.

How will the ACO lead to an improved First Nations consultation process in Alberta?

First Nations and industry have indicated that the Crown must play a more prominent role in consultation. The ACO will direct, monitor and support the consultation activities of GoA departments as well as proponents and First Nations as required.