Tsawout First Nation asserts our inherent rights and responsibilities as the stewards of our traditional territories. Our ancestral lands hold deep historical, cultural, and spiritual significance for us, and it is essential that organizations operating within our territories recognize and respect our sovereignty and consult with us in a meaningful and inclusive manner.
Consultation with First Nation communities is not only a legal obligation but also a fundamental principle of justice and reconciliation. We possess unique knowledge and expertise rooted in our connection to the land and our cultural traditions. Therefore, any organization operating within our territories must engage in a sincere and respectful consultation process that recognizes our rights, values our perspectives, and incorporates our traditional ecological knowledge.
Consultation should occur from the earliest stages of planning and continue throughout the entire lifecycle of any project or activity. It should be a transparent and collaborative process that fosters open dialogue, active listening, and mutual respect. We expect organizations to provide us with comprehensive information about their activities, potential impacts, and mitigation measures, and to engage in genuine dialogue to address our concerns and aspirations.
As a First Nation community, we possess the inherent right to self-determination, as affirmed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other international agreements. This includes the right to give or withhold our free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) regarding activities that may affect our lands, resources, and way of life. We expect organizations to fully respect and honour this right, ensuring that our consent is sought, and our perspectives are integrated into the decision-making processes.
Meaningful consultation should go beyond a mere checkbox exercise. It should be characterized by trust-building, relationship-building, and mutually beneficial outcomes. We insist on being treated as equal partners, with our cultural heritage and traditional knowledge valued and integrated into the planning, implementation, and management of any projects or activities in our territories.
We expect organizations to commit to long-term engagement and capacity-building initiatives that empower our community and enhance our self-sufficiency. Economic opportunities arising from activities within our territories should be inclusive, providing direct benefits to our community members, fostering local employment, and supporting sustainable economic development that aligns with our values and aspirations.
In summary, organizations operating within our traditional territories have a profound responsibility to consult with our community. We demand the recognition of our inherent rights, the inclusion of our perspectives and knowledge, and the genuine commitment to building a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. We expect organizations to engage in sincere and meaningful consultation that upholds our right to self-determination and contributes to the well-being and empowerment of our community. Only through this collaborative approach can we ensure the protection, preservation, and sustainable management of our ancestral lands for the benefit of present and future generations.