Aboriginal Participation in Devolution Negotiations

Oct 29 2010

Premier Floyd Roland says he hopes Aboriginal governments in the Northwest Territories will be prepared to take the next step in the process to advance a proposed Devolution Agreement-in-Principle (AiP).

The Premier presented a history of the AiP process to Members of the Legislative Assembly this morning. While the draft AiP is not binding, it provides the necessary parameters for negotiations leading to a final agreement on Devolution.

“We have made every effort over the past nine years to involve NWT Aboriginal governments in the negotiations and there is nothing in the AiP that they have not had the chance to review and fully consider many times before,” he said.

The current Devolution process began in May 2001 at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum, consisting of Aboriginal leadership, the Premier of the Northwest Territories and the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. Since 2001, negotiations have been ongoing between the Federal, Territorial, and Aboriginal governments. In June 2010, there was agreement among the parties that the negotiators had reached the extent of their mandate and the proposed AiP was forwarded to leadership for consideration.

“Gaining control over public lands, water and resources will be a major step in the political evolution of the NWT,” the Premier noted. “I believe that the proposed AiP provides the basis for a deal that will create real economic benefits for all residents of the NWT.”

For the Premier’s full statement, visit: www.gov.nt.ca

For more information, contact:

Press Secretary
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 669-2302


Background:

The Devolution Agreement-in-Principle Timeline:

  • May 2001: The current Devolution process began at a meeting of the then Intergovernmental Forum, consisting of Aboriginal leadership, the Premier of the Northwest Territories and the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. It was at this meeting that agreement was reached on a Memorandum of Intent that stated the intention of all parties to begin negotiations.
  • September 2002: Tripartite negotiations between Canada, the GNWT and representatives from the Aboriginal governments began.
  • March 2004: A Devolution Framework Agreement, was signed by the GNWT, Canada and Aboriginal governments indicating agreement among all parties on the broad outlines of Devolution.
  • March 2005: Canada made an offer to the NWT parties. The Negotiator for the Aboriginal Summit was prepared to recommend the draft AiP and advanced it that summer at a number of general assemblies. The GNWT, however, declined the offer, not agreeing with Canada over primarily financial matters, including A-base, one-time costs and Net Fiscal Benefit.
  • May 2007: The GNWT and four Aboriginal governments – the Inuvialuit, Gwich’in, Sahtu and NWT Métis Nation – signed an AiP on resource revenue sharing that would see 25% of the Net Fiscal Benefit shared among Aboriginal governments. Provisions were made for the remaining three Aboriginal governments to sign on when they were ready to do so.The four Aboriginal governments and the GNWT then agreed on a revised Devolution Agreement-in-principle that they formally jointly transmitted to Minister Prentice for signature. The Minister declined and suggested returning to the negotiation table. The main issues of money remained.
  • In 2009: Canada and the GNWT began to make progress on resolving the outstanding bilateral issues. With the final elements of a Devolution AiP starting to come together, plans were made to brief Aboriginal governments and resume full tripartite negotiations.
  • November /December 2009 – January 2010: A series of briefings were provided to:
    • The President and Vice-President of the Gwich’in Tribal Council;
    • The Chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and senior officials;
    • All Tlicho leadership and senior staff;
    • All Sahtu leadership and senior officials;
    • The majority of Akaitcho Chiefs;
    • NWT Métis Nation leadership and officials; and
    • Dehcho representatives.
  • January 2010: A technical session with Canada, the GNWT and Aboriginal governments was held.
  • April/June 2010: Main Table negotiations were held. The Inuvialuit, Sahtu and NWT Métis Nation were full participants in the Main Table negotiations along with Canada and the GNWT. The Tlicho, Akaitcho and Dehcho attended the negotiations as observers. (The Gwich’in Tribal Council withdrew from participation in April 2010, despite having been signatories to the 2007 AiP on resource revenue sharing between the GNWT and Aboriginal governments.)
  • June 2010: Following the Main Table negotiations there was agreement that negotiators had reached the extent of their mandate and the proposed AiP should be forwarded to leadership for consideration.