Indigenous Communities

The Canadian electricity industry is committed to advancing transparent communication, meaningful engagement, and economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.


Canada’s Indigenous Peoples have endured hardships and marginalization since colonization from systemic racism and discrimination, to lack of access to affordable housing and clean energy. However, we all have a responsibility to act, and act now to work toward genuine reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Reconciliation is a journey that requires a multitude of “actions” by:

  • individuals,
  • companies,
  • governments,
  • and legal institutions.

These actions can range from addressing cultural competencies at the individual level, to large-scale government measures such as acknowledging past injustices against Indigenous Peoples, negotiating modern treaties and land claim agreements, enabling self-determination, and facilitating Indigenous self-government. These are inherently complex issues, but we have a responsibility to take meaningful action.


Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples has continued to evolve since Confederation. While the Indian Act remains one of the most wide-ranging federal statutes governing Indigenous issues, Canada has a unique relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on constitutionally protected rights, which were recognized and affirmed under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. While the Constitution did not define these rights, legal jurisprudence both prior to, and after, the repatriation of the Constitution has clarified the scope of Indigenous and treaty rights and title in cases such as Calder et al. v. B.C. Attorney General (1973) and R. v. Sparrow (1990). While legal jurisprudence related to Indigenous and treaty rights continue to evolve, there is still much to be done to reconcile with Indigenous Peoples.

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) have suggested several ways to pursue genuine reconciliation since the 1990s. In 2015, the TRC called upon the Government of Canada, on behalf of all Canadians, to jointly develop with Indigenous Peoples a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation, which would also adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as the framework for reconciliation. After nearly six years since the TRC Calls to Action, the federal government enacted Bill C-15 in 2021 to implement UNDRIP, which is similar to the legislation adopted in 2019 by the Government of British Columbia.

Key messages

The industry’s commitment to learning and respecting Indigenous world views have led to a range of mutually beneficial electricity industry initiatives, including:

  • meaningful early consultations with local Indigenous communities,
  • joint business ventures and equity partnerships,
  • access to employment, education, and training opportunities,
  • supply chain procurement and contracts,
  • and intercultural competency training for management and staff etc.

According to the report “Accelerating Transition” by Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE), there are nearly 2500 Indigenous-affiliated clean energy projects in operation or planning stages, including 197 medium-to-large renewable generation projects. These projects represent another potential pathway for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

  • The Conference Board of Canada has also estimated the electricity industry will need to invest roughly $1.7 trillion by 2050 to ensure a resilient, low-carbon energy future. This unprecedented investment the industry must undertake represents a tremendous opportunity for Indigenous communities.
  • Industry and Indigenous communities also need sustained support from all levels of governments, including clear and unambiguous expectations around Indigenous consultation and engagement on major projects.
  • The federal statute to implement United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is laudable, but it fails to provide appropriate “interpretive” guidance on many key issues, including consultation requirements, which could potentially have detrimental effects on Canada’s reconciliation journey. The Canadian electricity industry continues to work diligently with the federal government and Indigenous partners on these issues, including sharing our perspective on the proposed UNDRIP Action Plan which is currently being co-developed by the Government of Canada and Indigenous Peoples.
  • The electricity industry needs provincial governments and their energy regulators to allow companies to expand to northern and remote areas despite the cost. This is important because access to clean, safe, and reliable electricity is a precursor for clean water, better education, improved health care, increased economic development, better employment and, ultimately, a better quality of life for many Indigenous communities.
  • The Government of Canada is currently working on a proposed Benefits Sharing Framework to ensure Indigenous communities derive direct benefit from major projects in their communities. The electricity industry supports this initiative but calls upon the federal government to consult Electricity Canada so that we can share industry best practices of partnerships and benefits sharing with local Indigenous communities over the last two decades. We believe these best practices can inform this framework and ensure there is room for flexibility and innovation in future project benefit sharing arrangements.