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Frequently Asked Questions: Devolution

What is devolution?

Devolution is the process of transferring control over Nunavut’s public (Crown) lands and resources to the Government of Nunavut (GN).  Devolution will allow Nunavummiut to make decisions on how public lands and resources are used and developed. An agreement will be negotiated between the Government of Nunavut, the Government of Canada and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) that sets out the process for this transfer.

The Government of Canada currently makes all the final decisions on Nunavut’s public lands. This includes decision-making on the development of Nunavut’s land and resources such as minerals, oil and gas. As a result of development, any royalties paid by a company developing a resource on Nunavut’s public lands prior to devolution would go to the federal government. Devolution will change this too – allowing the GN to collect royalties from development. Having decision-making authority over, and the ability to collect royalties from the development of public lands in Nunavut, was a goal envisioned by the creators of Nunavut. It can only be realized through the devolution of federal authorities.

Decision-making powers come from having ‘jurisdiction’ or legislative authority. These powers are what allow and guide a government to make decisions. A devolution agreement will transfer these authorities to the Government of Nunavut, allowing Nunavummiut to make the final decision on the public land and the resources in Nunavut. Devolution will not alter the rights acquired by Inuit through the
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA), and it will not impact Inuit Owned Lands (IOL).

The federal government has appointed their negotiator.


What does this mean?

The federal government has appointed Dale Drown to be its Chief Negotiator. This means the federal government is getting ready to start devolution negotiations with NTI and the GN. The federal negotiator will talk with the GN and NTI and plan for the start of formal negotiations. The GN’s Chief Negotiator is David Akeeagok and NTI’s Chief Negotiator is Udloriak Hanson.


Why is devolution important for Nunavut?

Devolution will bring decision-making closer to home, giving Nunavummiut a greater say in issues that affect them. Final decisions over public land and resource use will be made in Nunavut and not in Ottawa. It will enable Nunavummiut to better control the pace of development and maintain Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq, or environmental stewardship.

Canada’s provinces and the Yukon already have these responsibilities. The Government of the Northwest Territories is nearing completion of their final agreement. Devolution will not make Nunavut a province, but it will give the territory the same responsibilities and similar benefits enjoyed by the other provinces and territories in Canada. Nunavummiut deserve the same economic opportunities and decision-making authorities as other Canadians.


Is Nunavut ready for devolution?

Yes. Devolution will continue the building process started with the land claims negotiations and settlement. The Government of Nunavut is ready to negotiate an agreement with Canada and NTI, and the Parties agreed on a shared plan for assuring a readiness to devolve. Nunavut’s Lands and Resources Devolution Negotiation Protocol (the Protocol) assures a shared process to prepare for the transfer - parallel to the negotiations.  Nunavut is ready for the next step in its political development.


What is NTI’s role in devolution?

Article 28 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement secures NTI’s role in devolution negotiations. In 2001, the GN and NTI agreed that NTI would be a full party to the negotiations and an independent signatory to the devolution final agreement. This was reinforced through the Protocol by all the Parties in 2008 and continues to be a fundamental component of Nunavut devolution.


When will devolution happen?

Devolution, the actual transfer of authority, will take place once the three Parties have negotiated a final agreement. The Protocol signed by the three Parties in 2008 outlines the scope of what the negotiations will include. Formal negotiations will begin once Canada agrees to come to the table.