Environmental review process for projects on reserve land

The Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) Environmental Review Process (ERP) makes sure projects don't pose risks to the environment and Indigenous communities.

On this page

About the process


Projects with more potential to cause harm need more review, in contrast to projects that are:

Legislative context

ISC developed the ERP in partnership with First Nations.

Established in 2013, the ERP was designed to fulfil obligations under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. It's been updated to comply with the new Impact Assessment Act (IAA).

Section 82 of the IAA says federal departments must make sure proposed projects on federal lands, including reserve lands, aren't likely to cause harmful environmental effects.

Roles and responsibilities

An environmental review involves many parties.

The proponent

The proponent is the spokesperson for the project. Their responsibility is to tell the community and ISC about the project.

They must give:

  • an evaluation of mitigation measures and how the measures will be carried out
  • a summary of their engagement process with First Nations and community members
The community

The community can take part in an ERP by voicing concerns about the project. Thoughts and concerns shared on the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry must be considered. ISC encourages open dialogue between the proponent and the community throughout the process.

Indigenous Services Canada

ISC serves First Nations communities and other federal partners by giving advice on the environmental review requirements in federal laws for reserve lands. ISC's goal is to gradually transfer these responsibilities to First Nations communities and Indigenous organizations. Communities will need help to build their own environmental management capacity so that they can exercise stewardship of their lands and waters.

Tools and guides

ISC environment officers are ready to help proponents and First Nations communities answer questions.

Proponents must meet with an environment officer in the early stages of project planning for advice on whether the ERP applies to their projects. Consulting experts early can prevent needless delays.

ISC has created guides to help proponents complete an environmental review:


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