2030 NORTH: Land Claims Agreement in the North 2030


Presented by John Donihee


Considering the importance of land claims to the future of the North, how well has the implementation process progressed? The answer appears to be not so well. The 2003 report of the Auditor General of Canada reviewed progress toward transferring federal responsibilities to the North, including implementation of the Gwich’in and Nunavut Land Claims Agreements. In 2007, the Auditor General re-examined Canada’s progress in implementing the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

In 2003, the Auditor General emphasized the need for collaboration in the implementation of land claims. The 2003 report concluded that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was more focused on implementing the letter than the spirit of the land claims examined, suggesting that the department did not appear to take into account the objectives, spirit and intent of the agreements. Further, at that time it was observed that INAC’s leadership and performance in managing federal responsibilities under the agreements “left a lot to be desired”.

In 2007, the Auditor General reviewed INAC’s implementation of the IFA and observed that 23 years after it came into effect there was still no formal strategy for implementing it. The report notes that federal contracting policies still did not meet Canada’s obligations under the agreement. During the audit it appears that INAC officials took the position that the principles set out in the IFA were only Inuvialuit principles and not binding on Canada. The Auditor General concluded that INAC had not met some of its significant obligations and management responsibilities for implementing federal obligations related to the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

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