By Kelly Marquis
In order to set the Plan Nord 2015 in motion, the government is employing a governance structure, which will ensure it’s social acceptability within Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. As far as Aboriginal Nations involved, it is declared that the updated Plan Nord will include “the constitutional obligation of consultation” regarding resource development on traditional Aboriginal territory (Plan Nord, 2015, pg. 8). Furthermore, existing agreements with Aboriginal nations have been maintained, while the Plan Nord is also sufficiently flexible to future developments in land claims.
As part of the framework for implementation, the Plan Nord officials initiated a group called the Société du Plan Nord, including representatives of the regions in development, as well as the Aboriginal Nations concerned. “The Société du Plan Nord is supported in its actions by the Assembly of Partners whose members are appointed in a way that ensures that it is representative of the local and aboriginal communities in the territories of Nunavik, James Bay–Eeyou Istchee, Côte-Nord and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and the main sectors of activity concerned” (Plan Nord, 2015, pg. 39). It is interesting to note that the Aboriginal groups in question will only hold the ability to provide an opinion to the Société, submit advice and offer recommendations.
The structure of the Plan Nord has changed since it’s initial formation in 2008. Initially, “representatives of the Inuit, Cree, Naskapi and certain Innu communities [participated] in the meetings of the partners’ discussion table” (Plan Nord, 2008, pg. 125). The Innu groups who originally participated were the Mashteuiatsh and the Nutakuan. The Essipit and Pakua Shipi communities were said to be following the discussions, but not taking part in the Plan Nord 2008. In that year, the Aboriginal groups included in the Plan were the Kativik Regional Government, the Grand Council of the Cree, the Commmunity of Nutakuan, the Community of Mashteuiatsh, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, the Naskapi Development Corporation, and the Mativik Corporation.
The Aboriginal groups still involved in the Plan Nord in 2015 include the Kativik Regional Government, the Grand Council of the Cree, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, the Naskapi Development Corporation, and the Mativik Corporation. They are now joined by the Nunavik Board of Health and Institut Tshakapesh. The Plan Nord is no longer supported by the Community of Nutakuan and the Community of Mashteuiatsh.
Some possible reasons for the discontinued participation of these Innu communities are related to land claims. The Cree, Inuit and Naskapi have settled land claims whereas the Attikamew and Innu have not. This presents a problem for the application of the Plan Nord, especially in terms of decision making. Land claims are a priority among Aboriginal peoples and it is possible that Innu communities’ primary concern is the current state of their land claims.
Each Aboriginal community has their reasons for participating or not participating in the Plan Nord. Some reasons for Aboriginal participation in the Plan Nord could be community economic development, jobs for community members and some may simply partake to be included in the process. It is also important to note that even though some groups participate in these discussion panels, it does not ensure the support of the entire Aboriginal community in question.