An Indigenous engagement strategy is a comprehensive and thoughtful plan developed by companies, government agencies, or organizations to engage and consult with Indigenous communities in a respectful and meaningful way. The goal of such a strategy is to set organizations up for success, by ensuring that Indigenous rights, interests, and perspectives are considered when making decisions that may affect their lands, resources, or ways of life, and creating relationships that will support this process.

Here are some key elements that a robust Indigenous engagement strategy might include:

  1. Legal and Policy Framework: Start by understanding the legal and policy context governing Indigenous rights and consultation in the region in which your company or organization operates. This may involve examining relevant treaties, land claims agreements, court decisions, and government policies related to Indigenous engagement.
  2. Identify Affected Indigenous Communities: Identify all potentially affected Indigenous communities, including those with traditional territories in the project area, nearby communities, or those with potential cultural, historical, or spiritual ties to the project.
  3. Communication and Relationship Building: Establish open lines of communication with Indigenous communities and build trusting and respectful relationships. This may involve meeting with Indigenous leaders, Elders, and community members to understand and address their priorities, concerns, and aspirations.
  4. Cultural Awareness Training: Provide training to all employees involved in the engagement process to foster cultural sensitivity and awareness of Indigenous rights, histories, cultures, and protocols, and build skills that support relationship building.
  5. Information Sharing: Share relevant information about the project, its potential impacts, and proposed mitigation measures in a clear and accessible manner. Use plain language and visual aids as needed to ensure the information is easily understood.
  6. Engagement Methods: Tailor consultation methods to each community’s preferences and needs. This may include community meetings, workshops, one-on-one consultations, written submissions, and incorporating traditional decision-making processes where appropriate.
  7. Respecting (and including) Indigenous Knowledge: Recognize and respect Indigenous knowledge, traditional land use, and ecological practices. Engage with Indigenous knowledge holders and seek their input in project planning and decision-making.
  8. Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC): In cases where the project could have significant impacts on Indigenous rights or lands, seekto obtain free, prior, and informed consent from affected Indigenous communities, as recognized by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
  9. Mitigation and Accommodation: Be prepared to adjust project plans, incorporate feedback, and provide appropriate accommodations to address Indigenous concerns and affirm their rights.
  10. Monitoring and Follow-up: Establish mechanisms for ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and feedback to ensure that the company maintains a positive and respectful relationship with Indigenous communities throughout the project’s lifecycle.
  11. Indigenous Capacity Building: Consider supporting capacity-building initiatives within Indigenous communities to enable them to fully participate in the consultation process and future opportunities related to the project.
  12. Transparency and Accountability: Be transparent about the outcomes of the engagement and consultation process and be accountable for commitments made during the engagement.

When working with Indigenous communities, it’s crucial to establish respectful and equitable relationships, or even partnerships, that prioritize Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, and the right to self-determination. An Indigenous Engagement Consultant can help to pave the way for successful relationships by creating foundations built on the following:


  1. Cultural Understanding and Sensitivity: Indigenous communities in Canada have unique cultures, traditions, and ways of doing business. An Indigenous Engagement Consultant can help bridge the cultural gap between the company and Indigenous communities, ensuring that business practices and decisions respect and align with Indigenous values and customs.
  2. Relationships with Indigenous Communities: If the company’s operations or projects are located on or near Indigenous lands or territories, having an Indigenous Engagement Consultant can facilitate engagement and consultation with the local Indigenous communities. This is crucial for building positive relationships, addressing any concerns or potential impacts on Indigenous rights and interests, and obtaining consent.
  3. Indigenous Knowledge and Expertise: An Indigenous Engagement Consultant can provide valuable insights and expertise, and help to uncover and incorporate knowledge from Elders and Traditional Knowledge Holders, who have a deep understanding of the local environment, ecology, and sustainable practices. This knowledge can be essential in industries such as resource extraction, land development, or environmental conservation, and its inclusion can provide assurances to communities that development will be more sustainable.
  4. Compliance with Indigenous Rights: Canada recognizes and protects Indigenous rights through various legal frameworks, including treaties, land claims agreements, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). An Indigenous Engagement Consultant can assist the company in understanding and complying with these rights, and is particularly helpful in helping to navigate changing legislation in Canada.
  5. Indigenous Business Development: For companies looking to expand their business into Indigenous markets, an Indigenous Engagement Consultant can provide valuable insights into procurement strategies and formal agreements, and help develop culturally appropriate ways of working together.

By working with an Indigenous Engagement Consultant to Develop an Indigenous Engagement Strategy, organizations can benefit from broader knowledge and insights into working with Indigenous Communities. We can help you chart a more effective path to engagement, consultation, relationship building and business development.