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Shared Decision Making in British Columbia

Summer 2012 - March 31, 2015
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The Shared Decision Making (SDM) in British Columbia Project was a multi-year independent research initiative housed at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue. This collaborative project examined the emergence of non-treaty ‘SDM Agreements,’ negotiated between British Columbia and individual or groups of First Nations, in the form of Strategic Engagement Agreements’ or ‘Reconciliation Protocols.’ Each SDM Agreement provides a framework for collaboration between two governments who despite their differences, seek to build working relationships with one another, develop trust, and find ways to reach mutually agreeable decisions about how land and resources should be managed.

The overarching purpose of the SDM in BC project was to understand more clearly where SDM Agreements have come from, what they mean, and how they are working so far.

Selected Project Reports

Step by Step: Final Report for the Shared Decision Making in BC Project

This document presents the findings of the SDM in BC Project, highlighting the origin of SDM Agreements and the drivers that led to their development, their scope and intent, and their strengths and weaknesses. This report also examines how lessons and insights from the negotiation and implementation of SDM Agreements might inform on-going efforts to advance reconciliation, particularly in the context of uncertainty following recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions. The Final Report concludes with proposals for next steps, including support for an ongoing community of practice.

Step by Step: Executive Summary of the Final Report for the Shared Decision Making in BC Project

The Executive Summary provides an overview of findings of the Step by Step report, highlighting key lessons and insights from the SDM in BC Project. 

Summary: Preliminary Analysis of Interview Results (June 2013)

A summary and preliminary analysis of 25 semi-structured interviews conducted with First Nation and provincial practitioners involved in the development and implementation of SDM agreements in British Columbia. This report includes extensive quotes from practitioners and includes both qualitative and quantitative survey results.

Overview of Final Report

Select Quotes

  • "These agreements can begin to scratch at the unrealized expectations around reconciling jurisdictions. This is the ultimate constitutional question. These agreements are a small, incremental step toward that very big question."
    Provincial Practitioner

  • "Through these agreements we are able to unravel some of the complexity around authority and decision making, but we are still at an early stage. This is not all about getting to an end point, but instead, getting to a beginning point!"
    Provincial Practitioner

  • "Prior to this, how we engage was uncertain. This agreement has given us some understanding, a path that we did not previously have. In that regard it is a step in the right direction."
    First Nations Practitioner

  • "It is all about relationships. Before we started, it was uncommon for staff to meet with First Nations directly. It was intimidating at first, but now people can talk with one another and trouble shoot."
    Provincial Practitioner

  • "Cultural change is hard for both sides! These agreements will succeed or fail based on the willingness on both sides to make it work! We are overcoming decades of conflict, which simply takes time. Face to face time is critical."
    First Nations Practitioner

  • "[SDM Agreements represent] such a complex undertaking. They are a step in the right direction, but these agreements won't do everything! Cultural change is hugely difficult."
    Provincial practitioner

  • "The current form of SDM is an enhanced consultation model. As such, it has the potential to improve information exchange, dialogue, and exploration of options to address First Nation interests."
    First Nations Practitioner

  • "It's a step in the right direction."
    First Nations Practitioner

  • "The agreement would not work without the capacity to implement such an agreement. This capacity support has allowed me to develop tools that I have wanted to develop for many years - such as policy development, and capacity development of staff."
    First Nations Practitioner

  • "Without an agreement, the opportunity cost is that the good intentions of the parties to capitalize on opportunities get lost. If you have a platform - an anchor for a relationship - and if the parties are of one mind... they can pluck opportunities out of the air as they come by and can make something of them."
    Provincial practitioner

  • "Working relationships are in a completely different ballpark as a result [of this SDM Agreement]. It’s also about establishing 'recognition' and 'respect.' I am not using these terms in their strictest legal sense, but in a more colloquial context. As a result of these agreements, we on the provincial side are now acting differently."
    Provincial practitioner