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Artwork by Clayton Gauthier

Reconcili(action): What is Meaningful Consultation?

In March 2021, the CRT released its Reconcili(action) Plan. This document sets out the CRT’s commitment to implementing specific, measurable, and timely actions toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

From May to August 2021 the CRT’s Indigenous summer law student, Beth Fox, focused on helping the CRT take action on two commitments in the Plan:

13. The CRT will provide different options in order to accommodate Indigenous approaches to resolving disputes and help participants resolve their disputes consensually if possible.

14. The CRT will integrate Indigenous legal principles, protocols and practices into the CRT’s processes.

This is the third blog post in a series about this work. See the first two posts: What is Indigenous Law?  and Are There Opportunities to Include Indigenous Legal Principles in the CRT’s Dispute Resolution Process?

What is meaningful consultation?

Being an effective ally requires shifting the perspective from “what can we do to help these people”, to creating space for Indigenous people to use their own skills and knowledge.  This perspective sets the foundation for meaningful consultation.

When creating a process that tries to include all Indigenous peoples, there is a risk of being culturally insensitive by overlooking diversity. This is called a pan-Indigenous approach. Principles can vary from one Indigenous legal order to the next. Processes based on a pan-Indigenous perspective can be discouraging to Indigenous people who feel that certain ideas or concepts don’t relate to them.  It can be difficult to avoid a pan-Indigenous approach when providing services to a wide group of Indigenous people. However, culturally sensitive ways of doing things can be identified by including Indigenous people when developing processes.

It is also important to respect Indigenous peoples’ right to make their own choices. This is called self-determination. Promoting self-determination helps correct historical injustices that Indigenous people have been faced with and is respectful of Indigenous law and legal principles. It’s important for the CRT to look for ways to incorporate Indigenous law and legal process into CRT dispute resolution, within the confines of its statutory mandate.

Applying Indigenous law to the CRT’s existing dispute resolution processes will require the input, feedback, and expertise of Indigenous people. Indigenous people know their laws best and need to be at the forefront of this work. It is respectful of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and in the spirit of reconciliation to include them as active collaborators in this work. If you are an Indigenous person who has an expertise and interest in this area and would be interested in working with the CRT to improve our processes for Indigenous participants, please contact us.

This is the last post about the work completed by Beth Fox, the CRT’s Indigenous summer law student in 2021. Thank you, Beth, for your thoughtful and thorough work. It has been of great assistance to the CRT staff and members to expand our understanding, and further our work towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.


Artwork by Clayton Gauthier from the Nak’azdli First Nation. The CRT would like to thank Clayton for the gift of using his artwork in relation to the Reconcili(action) Plan. “Salmon’s Prayer” honours the connection that Indigenous peoples have with the land and water and share with all peoples.