The following principles have been identified by Wataynikaneyap as fundamental for the successful development of the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project.
Respect for the Anishinabe knowledge on their inherited practices and their homelands. There must be an understanding that their knowledge is based on thousands of years of empirical experience on their homelands, Anishinabe laws, and thanksgiving to the Creator and Spirits. Without this depth of knowledge, Anishinabe would not have thrived on their homelands so successfully, creating society and culture in these vast northern lands. In addition, Wataynikaneyap respects Tribal sovereignty.
Anishinabe have their own laws, customs, and governance protocols that form the traditional, cultural and social practices of their communities, until the Treaties were signed, these were and continue to be delivered orally. Anishinabe Laws and Customs have been in place for generations, and these are reinforced in the Treaties.
Treaties in the Project area include Treaty 9 and Adhesions, Treaty 3 and Adhesions and Treaty 5. The terms of these treaties, the implications on First Nation people and the interpretation of these documents by the First Nation peoples will need to be considered with respect to engagement, participation and the Project. The First Nations interpretation of land use and rights differ from the Crown's interpretation. Engagement will reflect First Nation perspectives on their homelands and treaty rights.
Based on an understanding of the communities and Wataynikaneyap's relationship with them, the following themes are integral to Aboriginal engagement:
- Without the Peoples's consent, there will be no major development in northwestern Ontario;
- Wataynikaneyap understands that their People have Aboriginal, Treaty and Inherent rights, as well as Aboriginal Laws, customs and conventions;
- With respect to the Duty to Consult and the delegation of procedural aspects by the Crown, Wataynikaneyap will exercise due diligence in its delegated aspects. It is recognized that ultimate responsibility for meeting any Duty to Consult rests with the Crown;
- Community engagement must respect community protocols, principles, community autonomy and Traditional Knowledge;
- The communities must be involved at an early stage;
- "Ground up" community engagement from start to finish must be open and inclusive;
- Both parties need to take responsibility in community engagement and exercise due diligence;
- Wataynikaneyap will follow joint engagement driven by First Nations designed to incorporate community needs and meet or exceed EA regulatory requirements;
- Engagement of First Nations with traditional lands impacted by transmission corridors of the Project must continue through construction and operation, and;
- Benefits to communities, including skill development and employment, must be meaningful.