Feds grant Nunavut authority to develop its resources, per 'devolution' agreement

After nearly 25 years, Nunavut finally has sovereign control over its resources following the formalization of a devolution agreement with the federal government. The territory will receive $85 million annually from Ottawa and a one-time sum of $67 million to aid the transition.

Feds grant Nunavut authority to develop its resources, per 'devolution' agreement
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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After nearly 25 years as a territory, Nunavut finally has sovereign control over its resources following the formalization of a devolution agreement with the federal government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Iqaluit Thursday to sign the agreement alongside the territorial government representatives and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

"Today marks the finalization of the largest land transfer in the history of Canada," Trudeau said in his opening remarks. "Two million square kilometres of land and water will be transferred from the Government of Canada to the Government of Nunavut."

"This is a place truly unique in the world," he contends.

Thursday’s 239-page agreement effectively transfers decision-making control on healthcare, airports, and resource development among others to the territory — fulfilling a 2019 agreement-in-principle which tabled a five-year deadline.

It officially begins April 1, with both levels of government having until April 2027 to finalize all areas of negotiation, which include resource development, and land and water management, reported CBC News.

As part of the transfer of authority, Nunavut will receive $85 million annually from Ottawa and a one-time sum of $67 million to aid the transition. Taxpayers will also fork over $15 million for training purposes.

"A lot of work has gone into making today possible," said Trudeau. "Leaders, negotiators, officials of many stripes have all worked hard for many years for the same goal: for Nunavummiut to have increased control for decisions on their land, waters and resources."

According to the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, the devolution process progressed in five phases.

In 2008, the two governments and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. reached a protocol agreement, which outlined the devolution process. Followed by the 2019 agreement-in-principle and the final devolution transfer agreement formalized on January 18.

The onus is now on Nunavut to debate and legislate mechanisms to implement the agreement.

Among the notable legislative reforms include the Nunavut Act, a federal law, to give the territory control over public lands and rights to waters. Public lands include freshwater bodies, minerals, non-renewable resources, and buildings and structures.

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