FAQ: Aboriginal Rights and Participation

How will devolution benefit Aboriginal people and governments?

  • More say in decisions about the use and management of public land, water and resources throughout the territory through a new Intergovernmental Council.
  • More money for the territorial government to invest in projects that grow our economy, create jobs, and improve life in all NWT communities.
  • More money for Aboriginal governments to invest in community needs and government capacity.

Will Aboriginal rights be affected by devolution?

Treaty and Aboriginal rights are fully protected by the Constitution of Canada. Devolution will not and cannot change this.

What will happen with claims settled after devolution?

Devolution will not prevent the selection of land for future land claims and the federal government will retain the right to ‘take back’ devolved land for national interests, including land claim agreements.

Will devolution affect the amount of money offered as part of ongoing land claim negotiations in regions with unsettled claims?

No. Federal offers are based on a framework developed during the comprehensive Dene/Métis claim negotiations that preceded regional claims in the late 1980s.

Will devolution give the GNWT authority over settlement lands?

Devolution will not change the nature of settlement lands or the authority that Aboriginal governments have over their own lands.

Do some Aboriginal governments already receive resource revenues from public lands under their existing land claim agreements?

Yes. The Gwich’in, Sahtu and Tlicho agreements provide a share of the resource revenues collected on public land in the Mackenzie Valley. The resource revenues participating governments receive from the GNWT after devolution will be over and above any revenues they receive under federally negotiated treaties. For more information visit our Existing Resource Revenue Sharing Agreements page.

Do land claim agreements obligate the GNWT and Canada to involve regional Aboriginal governments in negotiations?

All NWT land claim agreements state that nothing in these agreements shall prejudice devolution or the transfer of responsibilities from Canada to the GNWT. While NWT land claim agreements do not legally require that Aboriginal governments participate directly in devolution negotiations, the GNWT  welcomed regional Aboriginal governments to become full parties to the negotiations. In the case of regional Aboriginal governments who have not signed final Devolution Agreement, the GNWT remains committed to working with them to ensure that their concerns and interests are addressed.