Atomic Energy of Canada Limited


Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation (AOPFN) are pleased to announce that they have signed a historic long-term relationship agreement (LTRA) that formalizes relations between two of Canada’s leading nuclear organizations and this Algonquin First Nation. The agreement will establish a working group to serve as the basis for ongoing collaborations, and create a Neya Wabun (Guardian) Program that will establish a regular AOPFN monitoring presence at designated AECL sites, among other environmental, cultural and economic protection and promotion activities and programs.

The LTRA is the culmination of intensive efforts, negotiations and engagement to establish a productive relationship between the owner and operator of Canada’s national nuclear laboratories and the AOPFN, built on mutual respect and understanding, and cultivated through ongoing opportunities for dialogue and participation. It also resolves and addresses key areas of concern identified by the AOPFN, including environmental protection, radioactive waste management, cultural protection and promotion, and, the pursuit of collaborative economic and business opportunities.

“Pikwakanagan now has a significant say in their operations, incorporating traditional knowledge and values while protecting Algonquin Rights and the environment. Responsible and modernized management of existing onsite radioactive waste will be ensured, and importation of low-level radioactive waste will be limited. Given the reality of operations at CNL/AECL, this agreement is the best path forward as we seek to protect mother earth and ensure the safety of future generations.” Chief Greg Sarazin

“This is a historic milestone in our relationship with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan,” remarked Fred Dermarkar, President and CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. “Reconciliation is a journey – and the long-term relationship agreement between AOPFN, AECL and CNL is an important step in healing as well as building trust, founded on transparency and mutual respect. We look forward to working collaboratively together in the future.”

“I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan for putting their trust in CNL by entering into this long-term relationship agreement,” commented Joe McBrearty, CNL President and CEO. “At CNL, we believe that the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge into our projects and across all of our operations will help to improve the way we do our work, and to build understanding between CNL staff and Indigenous People. That is at the heart of this agreement and CNL’s Reconciliation Action Plan, and I am incredibly excited to be working together with AECL and the AOPFN towards a shared vision for the sites that we manage.”

Under terms of the agreement, an LTRA working group featuring representation from all three parties will be stood up to facilitate ongoing engagements and collaboration between the organizations. This is in addition to the creation of what will be known as the ‘Neya Wabun Guardian Program,’ which will establish a regular presence of AOPFN Guardians at CNL operations and AECL sites within the territory. The Neya Wabun program will provide AOPFN with the opportunity to monitor, and enable corresponding reporting back to the AOPFN. Through these ongoing engagements AECL and CNL hope to continue to maintain trust with AOPFN.

Another key focus of the LTRA is one of CNL’s major environmental remediation projects, the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) project, which would establish a modern engineered disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste at the Chalk River Laboratories campus designed to replace temporary storage, and dispose of legacy contaminated soils and aging infrastructure. The proposed project is currently under review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and is subject to federal assessment, a process which has been underway since 2017, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Since 2020, AECL and CNL have participated in extensive engagements with the AOPFN. As a direct result of this process, CNL has made improvements to the project to address concerns raised through these engagements. With those changes in place and other AOPFN conditions and commitments met by CNL, the organizations have reached agreement on the NSDF project, and the AOPFN will provide its consent to CNL and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to move forward with the construction of the proposed facility.