Impact Assessments look at the environmental, social, economic, and cultural risks and benefits to an area where a major building project is being considered. They are done by developers and reviewed by a number of federal departments, who then make recommendations to reduce those impacts. It is a complicated process, and Indigenous communities are often asked to participate because their traditional lands are regularly affected by these major projects.
Health Canada is one of the departments that reviews Impact Assessments. They wanted to change the way that communities are introduced to the Impact Assessment process, and they asked KES to help them realize that change. We had three main objectives over the course of the project:
- Speak with organizations and communities who have been or are likely to be involved in Impact Assessments, and find out from them what kinds of information would be helpful to include in an introduction to Impact Assessments
- Work with the communities and organizations to learn how the information should be communicated – what type of document, and how it should look and feel
- Design a draft of the document that includes the information and elements in an appealing way
KES spoke to more than a dozen individuals and groups spread across the country, representing both First Nations and Metis interests. We heard about previous experiences with Impact Assessments, and focused on what was confusing, unclear, or surprising about the process. Once we collected stories and insights from a wide range of participants, we drafted the language and mocked up the look and feel of a draft document, which was sent to everyone we had spoken to for input and feedback. By the end of this process:
- We designed a one-page infographic that will be used by Health Canada starting in 2023 to introduce the Impact Assessment process
- Developed relationships with organizations and helped Health Canada create and sustain strong connections to communities and organizations across the country
- We wrote a summary report that included everything we heard from participants about Impact Assessments which Health Canada will use to make the process easier to understand and navigate going forward
The organizations and individuals that consulted with us were thrilled with the final draft we collaboratively designed and are looking forward to seeing them implemented in their own communities.