The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) is remarkable on many points, but perhaps the most significant is that this Agreement gave the Inuit of Nunavut true self-government and a separate territory - a first in Canada. Nunavut means "Our Land" in the Inuktitut language.
The official path to this landmark Agreement began in 1973 when an exhaustive study was launched to document where Inuit lived at the time, where their ancestors lived, how they lived, and how they travelled and hunted in Canada’s Arctic.
“Tagak Curley of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada took the Inuit Use and Occupancy Study to the Government of Canada. The study showed where the Inuit live today and where their ancestors lived. It also told how land is, and was, used. Without this proof, the federal government would not begin negotiating a land claim with the Inuit.” Kangikhiteagumaven: A Plain Language Guide to the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement
Negotiating the NLCA was an exhaustive process that spanned 20 years and took place during the terms of four prime ministers. The Inuit negotiators never once relented on their primary goal - self government and a separate territory - and were prepared to sacrifice the claim rather than sign an agreement that did not include these points.
The 282 page agreement was ratified in November 1992, and on July 9, 1993 the agreement between Her Majesty the Queen in the right of Canada and the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area became part of Canada law. The Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) was set up in 1993 to ensure the promises made in the 41 articles of the NLCA are fulfilled.
Nunavut Day, July 9, 2013
Nunavut Day, held on the anniversary of the signing of the Agreement, originated as a paid holiday for NTI and regional Inuit associations. It became a half day holiday for Government employees in 1999 and a full day in 2001. Most employers give the day off.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, NTI commissioned a monument in honour of the people who worked tirelessly for decades to realize the vision of self government and a separate territory for Inuit people. Three master carvers, Inuk Charlie of Taloyoak, Paul Malliki of Repulse Bay, and Looty Pijamini of Grise Fiord have been selected to create the monument. The monument will be unveiled as part of the celebrations on Nunavut Day, 2013.
10 Fast Facts:
1) Territory of Nunavut covers 1.9 million square kilometres which makes it nearly one-fifth the size of Canada
2) NLCA gives title to Inuit-owned lands measuring about 350,000 square kilometres (of the total area of Nunavut of 1.9 million square kilometres), of which about 35,000 square kilometres include mineral rights
3) NLCA is the largest Aboriginal land claim settlement in Canadian history
4) NLCA involved the largest number of beneficiaries of any land claim agreement in Canadian history
5) Nunavut has its own Legislative Assembly and public government, separate from the Government of the remainder of the Northwest Territories
6) NLCA included capital transfer payments of $1.148 billion over 14 years, and a $13 million Training Trust Fund for the establishment of the Government of Nunavut
7) NLCA recognizes that the Inuit are traditional and current users of wildlife and provides them with the legal right to harvest wildlife flow from their traditional and current use
8) NLCA ensures that the Inuit must always take part in decisions on wildlife via the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board
9) NLCA ensures a share of federal government royalties for Nunavut Inuit from oil, gas and mineral development on Crown lands,
10) NLCA provides the right to negotiate with industry for economic and social benefits with non-renewable resource development where Inuit own surface title to the land
We discuss the significant land claims in Canada in our courses - if you are interested in learning more about land claims and how they impact consultation and engagement with Aboriginal Peoples, contact us for more information.