Tłįchǫ Government – Devolution
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise Members that the Tłįchǫ Government will be signing the Devolution AiP. They are joining our Government, the Government of Canada and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Northwest Territories Metis Nation, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated and Gwich’in Tribal Council as signatories. The Tłįchǫ Government advised us of their decision at a meeting yesterday and we look forward to a signing ceremony in Behchoko on March 8th to welcome them back to the table as full partners in the future in the management of land and water resources in the Northwest Territories. Mr. Speaker, we now have every Aboriginal government with a settled claim at the table with us.
The Tłįchǫ Government has taken the time they needed to determine what was best for the people they represent and we respect that commitment, it is one that all signatories share. The Tłįchǫ Government has stated their willingness to work with us and we are pleased that their final decision was to become part of devolution.
The Tłįchǫ Government is unique among Aboriginal governments in the Northwest Territories in having already negotiated self-government as part of their claim. They have legislative authority and jurisdiction that is constitutionally protected and ensures their right to govern themselves. As a government, they know what it means to make important decisions and we appreciate their decision to rejoin devolution. With their help, we will ensure that their citizens and all Northwest Territories residents enjoy the benefits that devolution will bring.
Devolution will give Northerners the tools, authority and resources to manage future development in the Northwest Territories so we can ensure all our residents benefit and our environment is protected the way Northerners want it to be. The reality is that our economy depends largely on the Northwest Territories’ rich store of natural resources. Developed sustainably and responsibly, these resources can create a strong, prosperous territory that provides opportunities for jobs and personal success to all our people right across the Northwest Territories.
I would like to offer our continued support to the two remaining regional Aboriginal governments without settled claims. The Dehcho and Akaitcho Territory Governments are focused on settling their land claims and the Government of the Northwest Territories remains committed to our role in moving the process forward. We have written to both governments and invited both of them to sign onto devolution. We will continue to work with the two unsettled claim areas and encourage them to consider the benefits that devolution will bring to their people.
Mr. Speaker our goal is within reach. Devolution means jobs and business opportunities, more control over the economy, new revenues and a greater say in resource development and environmental protection for the Northwest Territories. The deal we have negotiated is the fruit of more than ten years of hard work.
As we turn our minds more fully to implementation and transition, I am pleased that we will have the majority of Aboriginal governments at the table with us. With their help and partnership, we will be in a position to make the most of our new responsibilities and ensure that all people of the Northwest Territories enjoy the benefits.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.