Traditional Land Use Studies (TLU)

Lifeways has been undertaking studies of traditional land use along with First Nations groups for many years. These studies have become an integral part of the development approvals process in Alberta, and help to preserve aboriginal knowledge.

First Nations people, or those of aboriginal heritage, and their ancestors have been present in Alberta for the last 10,000 years. Under Treaty with the Crown, First Nations were granted the right to collect, hunt, fish, and trap for food on Crown land and perform traditional ceremonies and burials. Based on recent Supreme Court decisions, before certain developments may proceed in Alberta, proponents must ensure that consultation is undertaken with First Nations groups on lands where existing Treaty or constitutional rights may be infringed upon by development activities (see Haida Nation v. British Columbia 2004, and Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada 2005). First Nations groups view the treaties as inviolable, and take the rights described therein very seriously. Government and developers are expected to fairly and reasonably treat concerns raised by First Nations during the consultation process.

The guidelines on the consultation process, The Government of Alberta’s First Nations Consultation Guidelines on Land Management and Resource Development, are a recognition that the Province of Alberta must consult with First Nations groups where land development activities may adversely impact rights and traditional uses of Crown lands. Alberta has delegated portions of this consultation process to industry, including notification to band councils or designates, of developments and their potential adverse impacts, meetings to discuss ideas, comments, and concerns of the potentially affected First Nations, and the development of strategies to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts.

Traditional Use Studies (TUS) are an important part of the consultation process. These are often also referred to as Traditional Land Use (TLU) studies, or studies of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). These studies seek to gauge the extent of past and present use of the land for traditional pursuits important to First Nations peoples including, but not limited to, hunting, fishing, trapping, collection of plants including berries and herbal medicines and ceremonial pursuits. The collection of this data is typically through informant interview of Elders or other community members and field visits to areas where specific information from oral sources is recorded. These studies provide information relevant to gauge the use of the area and help preserve the cultural patrimony of potentially affected First Nations groups. They also help build the collective knowledge of the community. Traditional Use Studies with First Nations have occurred in Alberta for many years but in late 2006 the process became more formalized with the official release of the new policy and guidelines.


Did you know that...

The so-called Ice-Free Corridor, once viewed as an important migration route allowing humans to pass south of the glaciers near the end of the Ice Ages, passes along the Foothills of Alberta and through Calgary?