Devolution – What Does It Mean For Northerners?

This devolution initiative moved responsibility for managing public land, water and resources in the Northwest Territories (NWT) from the federal to the territorial government.

It was the first devolution in the NWT to include provisions that generate significant revenue for the territory. Tens of millions of dollars in royalties and other resource revenues that previously went to the Government of Canada each year now stay in the territory.

Greater Decision-Making Power

NWT residents now have a greater voice in decisions about how public land, water and resources are managed, how the economy is developed and how the environment is protected.

New Government Revenues

The NWT – just like the provinces and Yukon – now keeps a share of the revenues collected from resource development on public land. This money can be used to improve life in all NWT communities. A portion of these revenues goes to Aboriginal governments to help them grow, build capacity and meet community needs.

Co-ordinated Land Stewardship

As part of this devolution, the GNWT and participating Aboriginal governments have agreed to work together on land management and natural resource stewardship through the newly formed Intergovernmental Council. This means decisions about development and environmental protection better reflect northern needs and priorities across the territory. To learn more about the Intergovernmental Council, please visit  their website at

More Responsive Resource Management

Initially, the GNWT mirrored federal legislation and processes to ensure a smooth transition. The GNWT will work with Aboriginal governments, regulatory boards, industry and other stakeholders to ensure government processes provide the efficiency, transparency and certainty to support renewed investment.

Jobs and Business Opportunities

New jobs have been created throughout the NWT as a direct result of devolution. Economic spin-offs from these jobs and related responsibilities could be as much as $28 million per year, creating new opportunities for local business. Aboriginal governments also have new revenues to provide opportunities based on their specific needs.