Aboriginal Rights and Devolution

The GNWT is proud to have been part of the negotiation of successful land claims in the Inuvialuit, Gwich’in and Sahtu regions and to be a full party to the Tlicho Agreement, a combined land and self-government agreement. The GNWT continues to look forward to the successful conclusion of negotiations in other regions of the NWT.

The GNWT’s commitment to Aboriginal rights has extended to every aspect of devolution negotiations. There has been a place at the negotiation table for regional Aboriginal government representatives from the very start of negotiations, with funding to support their participation. Provisions recognizing and respecting treaty and Aboriginal rights, settled and future claims, and other Aboriginal interests can be found throughout the Devolution Agreement.

The Devolution Agreement explicitly states that it will not delay, impair or impede ongoing or future land claims or self-government negotiations and confirms that devolution will not affect already settled claims, as the Constitution of Canada protects these agreements.

Devolution is about the GNWT taking on responsibility for managing public lands from the federal government. It cannot affect the authority Aboriginal governments have or will have over their settlement lands and resources.

Devolution also cannot settle questions of Aboriginal entitlement and self-government. Those issues are the subject of separate negotiations between Aboriginal governments and the Government of Canada, and in many cases have already been resolved through settled land claims and
self-government agreements.

The Devolution Agreement is entirely consistent and harmonious with these agreements. All modern NWT land claim agreements anticipate the transfer of public land, water and resources to the GNWT and state that nothing in them shall prejudice devolution or the transfer of these responsibilities.