May 28, 2019

Government of Saskatchewan And Whitecap Dakota First Nation Sign Historic Environmental Regulation Agreement

Environment Minister Dustin Duncan and Chief Darcy Bear of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation have signed a bilateral agreement that will allow the Ministry of Environment to support the Whitecap Dakota Environmental Protection Law.

This is the first agreement in Canadian history between a provincial government and a First Nation in relation to The Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management.  It is also the first to provide provincial support in environmental regulation to an entire reserve, rather than a single development.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to partner with Whitecap Dakota First Nation in this first-of-its-kind agreement,” Duncan said.  “Not only does this agreement help achieve positive environmental outcomes and protection for all members of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, it will also provide consistency for businesses and developments that are interested in working on this land.”

The Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management provides First Nations with the authority to develop their own environmental laws.  Since 2004, Whitecap Dakota First Nation has operated under its own community-ratified land code.

Under the new agreement, the First Nation is incorporating and adapting Saskatchewan’s Environmental Management and Protection Act, 2010 and select regulations.

“Rules under our new land law will focus on ensuring polluters pay for clean up, and those responsible for causing environmental damage are held responsible,” Chief Bear said.  “Our partnership with the Ministry of Environment will establish greater certainty for the businesses we host and better ensure that protection of our lands and resources is a priority.”

The goals of the new partnership align with province-wide sustainable environmental outcomes, as identified in Prairie Resilience: A Made in Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy, released in December 2017.

A few key facts about the agreement:

  • The Whitecap Dakota Environmental Protection Law and Administrative Management Agreement will not affect any Aboriginal rights of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation;
  • Whitecap Dakota First Nation will contract out monitoring and enforcement duties to Saskatchewan environmental protection officers;
  • Whitecap Dakota First Nation lands will be regulated in the same manner as other provincial lands in Saskatchewan with respect to environmental protection and contamination;
  • Whitecap Dakota First Nation and the Government of Saskatchewan agree to co-operate with each other to ensure effective administration of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation Environmental Protection Law; and
  • All parties agree to collaboratively resolve any issues that might arise in relation to the application of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation Environmental Protection Law in a timely manner.