Resource governance and indigenous rights: understanding intercultural frameworks for negotiating free prior and informed consent

In 2010, Canada endorsed the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The declaration, over a decade in the making, sets out a series of rights that could change relationships between indigenous peoples and settler societies around the world. In particular, the UNDRIP outlines a right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) when states consider legislative or administrative measures that could affect indigenous peoples. FPIC is of particular importance---and has become especially controversial---in relation to the extraction of natural resources on indigenous territories. In countries like Canada and Chile, new economic growth is increasingly tied to the expansion of already significant natural resource sectors. The research will examine case studies in Canada, supplemented by comparative cases from Chile, in order to establish best practices for implementing FPIC.The questions addressed by the research are: what are the standards and practices of cultural recognition, respect and intercultural communication that must be enacted in relationships between indigenous communities, government, and industry in order to establish meaningful and legitimate agreements around the development of natural resources?, and how can domestic and international indigenous rights frameworks be harmonized in different jurisdictions, given existing legal orders and patterns of social conflict?

Principal Investigator:

  • Terry Mitchell, Wilfrid Laurier University


  • Thierry Rodon
  • Alex Latta, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • José Aylwin, Universidad Austral de Cuba

Rosalie Côté-Tremblay

Rosalie Côté-Tremblay is an undergraduate student in political science at Laval University. During her studies, she did a study trip at the Institut d’études politiques, in Strasbourg, France. She is interested in aboriginal and Nordic politics, more specifically in aboriginal women and in the power struggle between the federal government and aboriginal communities.  Within the chair, she is working on the project “Resource Governance and indigenous rights: Understanding intercultural frameworks for negotiating free prior and informed consent”. With the study of the Mary River case in Nunavut, this project seek to identify the best practices for the achievement of a free prior and informed consent of the aboriginal communities  in the context of mining developments.

Karen Bouchard, PhD student

Karen Bouchard completed a literature review on free, prior and informed consent of Inuit communities during public consultations for the Mary River project. A trip to Iqaluit was made in the winter of 2018 to conduct interviews with key stakeholders.