Assessing the Intersections of Sex, Gender, and Other Identity Factors in the New Canadian Impact Assessment Act

AuthorHeidi Wa lker and Maureen G Reed
 12
Assessing the Intersections of Sex, Gender,
and Other Identity Factors in the New
Canadian Impact Assessment Act
Heidi Walker and Maureen G Reed
Researchers, practitioners, and nearby residents have long understood
that the benets and burdens of resource development projects are not
shared equally or equitably.1 For example, women and men, Indigenous
peoples and settler populations, senior citizens and youth, high- and
low-income earners, and people living nearby or far away from develop-
ments will all experience the benets and burdens of such projects dif-
ferently. Additionally, development projects are oen introduced into
regions where residents may already feel excluded from many of the
benets of economic and social life that are taken for granted in other
parts of Canada. Because some groups may be more disadvantaged to
begin with, blanket eorts to address the negative impacts or share the
positive impacts of development projects will not be received in the same
way across these dierent groups. Researchers have suggested that if we
do not pay attention to existing social contexts and power relationships
before new resource developments are introduced, new development
1 Linda Archibald & Mary Crnkovich, If Gender Mattered: A Case Study of Inuit Women,
Land Claims and the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Project (Ottawa: Status of Women Canada,
1999); Sara O’Shaughnessy & Naomi T Krogman, “Gender as Contradiction: From
Dichotomies to Diversity in Natural Resource Extraction” (2011) 27:2 Journal of Rural
Studies 134; Erik Kojola, “Indigeneity, Gender and Class in Decision-Making About
Risks from Resource Extraction” (2019) 5:2 Environmental Sociology 130.
     258
projects may simply exacerbate pre-existing inequalities (e.g., employ-
ment and income inequality, social marginalization, and exclusion) rather
than reduce them.2 This realization is at the heart of impact assessment
(IA) that accounts for the “intersections of sex, gender, and other identity
factors,” as required in the Canadian Impact Assessment Act (IAA).3
Canada has been committed to applying gender-based analysis to
federal policies, programs, and legislation since at least 1995 when it
ratied the United Nations’ Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
for working toward gender equality.4 The rst formal requirement
though not a legislated requirement for gender-based analysis in
Canadian environmental assessment occurred in 1997 for a proposed
nickel mine at Voisey’s Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador. The desig-
nated environmental assessment panel for the project draed the
environmental impact statement guidelines, through which it required
the proponent to consider how the project would dierently aect men
and women.5 This was a progressive step, resulting in the inclusion
of some gender-disaggregated data in the environmental assessment
report. Several deciencies, however, were noted: limited opportunities
for women’s organizations to meaningfully participate, the prioritiza-
tion of men’s traditional ecological knowledge, and “very little analysis
or insight into how the dierential impacts aect Inuit women.”6 From
that time to the implementation of the IAA, gender-based analysis in
Canadian assessments has been directed only on an ad hoc basis and
without standardization from one project to the next.
Since the 1990s, Women and Gender Equality Canada (formerly
Status of Women Canada) has claried that other identity attributes of
women and men, such as age, education, geography, culture, language,
2 See, for example, Amnesty International, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Gender, Indigenous
Rights, and Energy Development in Northeast British Columbia, Canada (London, UK:
Amnesty International, 2016), online:; Christine Hill, Chris
Madden & Nina Collins, A Guide to Gender Impact Assessment for the Extractive Industries
(Melbourne: Oxfam, 2017), online:
a-guide-to-gender-impact-assessment-for-the-extractive-industries-620782; Elana
Nightingale et al, “The Eects of Resource Extraction on Inuit Women and Their Fam-
ilies: Evidence from Canada (2017) 25:3 Gender & Development 367.
3 SC 2019, c 28, s 22.
4 Erin Skinner, “Lessons from the Field: Policy Matters and Gender-Based Analysis Tools
in Canada” (Halifax: Maritime Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, December 1998).
5 Archibald and Crnkovich, above note 1.
6 Ibid at 23 & 24 [emphasis added].

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