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Participant Funding Program - Aboriginal Funding Envelope
Funding Review Committee's Report

Allocation of Funds for Participation in the Environmental Assessment Process for the Star-Orion South Diamond Project

The Participant Funding Program (PFP) was established pursuant to subsection 58(1.1) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (the Act), which states: For the purposes of this Act, the Minister shall establish a participant funding program to facilitate the participation of the public in comprehensive studies, mediations and assessments by review panels. The PFP also includes an Aboriginal Funding Envelope (AFE) to strengthen the ability of Aboriginal groups to participate in federal or joint federal–provincial environmental assessment (EA) processes and in related consultation activities.

A funding review committee (FRC), independent of the EA of the Star–Orion South Diamond Project (the Project) was established to assess the funding applications received under Phase II of the PFPAFE for the Project and recommend funding allocations to the applicants. In addition to the federal funding being made available under the PFP-AFE to assist Aboriginal groups to participate in the EA process, additional funding for this purpose is also being provided by the Government of Saskatchewan.

On September 29, 2010, the FRC met to review six applications received amounting to a total request of $153,341.37. The FRC members were: Paul Scott, retired Regional Director of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's (the Agency) Pacific and Yukon Office, who chaired the FRC; and Larry Lechner, Past Director, Environmental Assessment Branch, Saskatchewan Environment.

Background

Shore Gold Inc.'s Star–Orion South Diamond Mine Project is a 40,000 to 120,000-tonne per day diamond mine located approximately 60 km east of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The Project consists of an open pit at the Star Kimberlite site and potentially a second open pit at the Orion South Kimberlite site. The Project also includes the construction of processing facilities and associated infrastructure to commercially extract diamonds. Extensive groundwater extraction will be required to operate the mine; resulting in an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 cubic metres per day of groundwater being discharged into the Saskatchewan River.

The Project is included in the federal Major Resource Projects Regulatory Improvements Initiative and is being reviewed by means of a comprehensive study. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada are responsible authorities (RAs) under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for this Project. Environment Canada and Health Canada are expert federal authorities for the assessment. In light of the recent amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Agency is fulfilling the duties and functions of the responsible authorities during the comprehensive study. The Project is also subject to review under Saskatchewan's Environmental Assessment Act and the EA is being managed as a cooperative federal-provincial EA as per the Canada-Saskatchewan Agreement on Environmental Assessment Cooperation.

A federal Notice of Commencement for the Project was posted on July 10, 2009. The Agency is currently working with other federal departments and the EA Branch of Saskatchewan Environment, to identify the proposed scope of the project and the assessment. Public input to this phase of the EA closed on August 20, 2010.

On August 27, 2010, notification letters were sent to the identified Aboriginal groups that could potentially participate in the EA process to inform them of the funding that would be made available for Phase II of the EA process. Under the PFPAFE, approved activities for this phase of the EA could include:

  • participation in consultation meetings with the federal government regarding the EA;
  • reviewing and providing comments on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Guidelines and the EA process;
  • reviewing and providing comments on the EIS; and
  • reviewing and providing comments on the Comprehensive Study Report.

Eligibility

Under the PFPAFE, funding may be provided to Aboriginal groups to support their input to an EA and/or to support their engagement in consultation activities with the federal government. These activities must be linked to the EA of a proposed project through a comprehensive study, mediation or review panel.

Eligible recipients must plan to engage in Aboriginal consultation activities with the federal government that are linked to the EA of the Project and be able to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have a direct, local interest in the Project, such as a residence in the area, or historical or cultural ties to the area likely to be affected by the Project;
  • Have community knowledge or Aboriginal traditional knowledge relevant to the EA; or
  • Have expert information relevant to the anticipated environmental effects of the Project.

The FRC concluded that all of the applicants met one or more of these eligibility criteria.

Under the PFPAFE, applicants can request funding for expenditures related to:

  • professional fees;
  • staff salaries and benefits;
  • travel expenses;
  • honoraria for Elders and Chiefs to attend meetings and functions;
  • ceremonial offerings related to receiving traditional knowledge;
  • administration and reporting;
  • other expenses related to local collection and distribution of information;
  • office supplies and telephone charges;
  • rental of office space and meeting rooms;
  • legal fees;
  • general media and advertising and promotion; and
  • purchase of information material.

Rationale for Allocation

The FRC were generally pleased with the quality of the applications and noted, with one exception, that the contribution of the applicants to the EA process could be valuable since they may potentially be affected by the Project and their views could important to consider in the context of the EA.

The FRC recommended some modest reductions to some of the budgets included in the applications in consideration of the total available AFE funding being provided for this EA. In making its recommendations, the FRC took into consideration the funding being provided by the Government of Saskatchewan.

The FRC recommended that no funding be provided to Clarence Natomagan as the FRC believes that the work that is proposed through his application would be more appropriately and effectively carried out by the other applicants who directly represent the interests and concerns of the potentially affected Aboriginal groups.

Recommendation

The FRC recommends an allocation of funds totalling $107,700 to five applicants to participate in the environmental assessment of the Project.

Funding Review Committee
Aboriginal Funding Envelope

Star–Orion South Diamond Project

___________________________
Paul Scott, Chairperson
Retired Regional Director, Pacific and Yukon Office, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

___________________________
Larry Lechner
Past Director, Environmental Assessment Branch, Saskatchewan Environment

Recommended Participant Funding Awards
Aboriginal Funding Envelope—Phase II
Star–Orion South Diamond Project

Applicants Funding Review Committee's Recommended Awards
Muskoday First Nation $25,000
James Smith Cree Nation $25,000
Archerwill Métis Local #58 Inc. (on behalf of the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan Eastern Region 2 and Saskatchewan Western Region 2) $26,100
Cumberland House Cree Nation $16,020
Red Earth Cree Nation $15,580
Clarence Natomagan $0
Total $107,700
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