Lisa Tssessaze – Meet the Advisors

As a member of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and ACFN’s Director of Dene Lands and Resource Management Department since 2009, I have significant experience in energy and natural resource development, deep ties to the community, and a passionate, grounded vision for sustaining our people.

In my 12 years as Director of the Dene Lands and Resource Management Department (formerly the Industry Relations Corporation), and my 5 prior years as the Department’s Environmental Specialist, I have been integrally involved with government and industry relations. ACFN’s traditional territories are centered at Fort Chipewyan, close to the heart of the Alberta oil sands, and as such, have been significantly affected by ongoing energy development. During my tenure as Director, I have led ACFN’s strategic engagement with major projects such as the Jackpine Mine Expansion, TECK Frontier mine, and MLX Syncrude, from consultation and environmental assessment to regulatory hearings to litigation. I have also directed ACFN’s involvement as intervenors and provided evidence in the reference to the federal Impact Assessment Act currently before the Alberta Court of Appeal, in the Ontario climate change reference, and the Saskatchewan carbon tax reference. From all these matters, I have gained an in-depth understanding of how the applicable frameworks and processes affect not only my community, but their systemic implications.

Every day as Director, I guide the strategic relationship between resource developers, government agencies, and the community, while upholding my mandate to protect ACFN’s Treaty and Aboriginal rights to Land, Water, Air, and Livelihood. I work with Elders, Chief and Council and membership to understand key concerns and determine consultation processes. I direct the collection of Indigenous Knowledge and studies of impacts to the traditional lands. I also work to share ACFN’s perspective and experience through collaborating with government and other stakeholders on regional committees, forums, and conferences. In this work, I merge my university education, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta, with my traditional knowledge, and commitment to my community.

I believe that Indigenous rights and perspectives must be better respected as foundational components of reconciliation and that Indigenous reconciliation with Canada is essential for sustainable development. I believe that innovation and collaboration are necessary to foster growth, relationship building, and economic development.

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