The Alberta government has asked about 30 First Nations to resume consultations with resource companies seeking approval on new projects, lifting a pause that was meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In late March, the government implemented the pause as part of its response to the novel coronavirus — suspending rules that set limits on the time each nation can spend before responding to various proposals from industry.

But it is now requiring most of those consultations to proceed, with time extensions of a few days to give a bit more time to some of the affected nations that request it.

Alberta’s Aboriginal Consultation Office started sending First Nations messages in mid-April, letting them know that Premier Jason Kenney’s cabinet had decided to resume consultations, saying that Albertans were counting on them to ensure critical elements of the economy, including resource development, “move forward through innovative and agile means.”

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“We know Indigenous communities, industry proponents and the GoA [Government of Alberta] are up for the challenge,” said one of the emails sent to a First Nation by the provincial office on April 17.

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