Premier’s Opening Comments – Devolution AiP Signing
During the devolution agreement-in-principle signing, Premier Roland highlighted the benefits of signing the AiP. Listen to the Devolution Agreement-in-Principle Signing.
First of all Minister Duncan, on behalf of all NWT residents, I say “welcome” on your latest visit to the Northwest Territories in your capacity as Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. We hope this is one of many visits, and we look forward to working with you to strengthen the north, for the benefit of northerners and all Canadians.
It is my honour today to sign this agreement on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories.
This is an important step in our development as a territory – an agreement to move to the next stage of negotiations that will, in the end, give the people of the NWT the authority and control of our own land and resources. It is our Territory. It is our home. Our decisions should be made here.
This latest agreement-in-principle is the result of almost ten years of work and negotiation between the GNWT, the federal government, and Aboriginal governments.
We have endured many ups and downs because we share a common vision:
- Decision making for the NWT, in the NWT – and by NWT people.
- And resource revenues benefiting our residents, their Governments and their Territory.
I believe that this AiP can get us there.
But History… even in the North… is never made quietly!
Concerns are being raised and today some of our leaders have chosen to protest this signing and will not be at the table today.
It is disappointing – because all Aboriginal voices deserve to be heard and represented in ongoing devolution negotiations.
Our residents need their leaders to negotiate resolutions on the very issues that they say are important to them – for example, resource revenue sharing and the post-devolution management of resources. With real power in the hands of our people, we will have opportunity to work cooperatively with Aboriginal governments; we will be able to make sure that the management of our land and resources is done in the best interests of our people; and we will begin to collect royalties from the development of our resources: money that we can use to invest in programs and services.
I applaud the foresight of Nellie Cournoyea – Chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Council who will join with us today to sign the AiP.
I would also like to acknowledge Melody McLeod, who sits with us today as a representative of the NWT Métis Nation. Their President – Betty Villebrun will sign the AiP in February.
Today – they have ensured that Inuvialuit and Métis interests will continue to be represented in devolution negotiations.
But let me be clear – this AiP leaves no one behind.
This morning, as our elders and Aboriginal people are listening via CKLB in our communities, I would like to assure you this AiP will not jeopardize land claims in the NWT. In fact, it will protect them. It will respect existing claims and it will allow for the development of future claims.
By signing the AiP we bring decades of work by Aboriginal, Territorial and Federal Governments closer to reality.
Decades of talk about Northerners making decisions for Northerners – is now closer to becoming real.
By signing this AiP, we bring the dreams of past leaders closer to life. It’s a chance for people of the NWT to work together in the interest of a brighter future. It’s a chance for northerners to take control of our future. And it’s a chance to fulfill the words of our past leaders – and put meaning – once and for all – in the words self determination.
By signing this agreement, we give our children a chance at a brighter future. A future where they will sit in the board rooms – not as observers – not as guests asked to say a few words – but as the decision makers.
By signing this agreement in principle, we give our children a chance to move from wards of the state to stewards of our lands.
As this AiP is signed today, we begin the next leg of our journey. As Premier, I am committed to keeping the devolution process moving forward towards a Final Agreement. The AiP has provisions for the remaining Aboriginal governments to sign and join in the next phase of the process whenever they are ready.
In our tent, there is a place waiting for each of our Territory’s aboriginal leaders. I hope that you will give serious consideration to returning and helping us guide and influencing this process as it moves forward. Come and be a partner in building our future together. Help us realize true self determination.
By signing this AiP, we can take the next step. We can open the door to a better future for our children – a better future than we had yesterday.
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
For more information on devolution: www.executive.gov.nt.ca