Roles and Responsibilities

The land and resource management regime in the NWT shares decision-making responsibilities among many players, organizations and institutions. Both the federal and territorial governments, as well as Aboriginal people and other residents are stakeholders in this system, which has its origins in part in the settlement of land claims throughout the territory.

Throughout the territory, land and water decisions are meant to protect the environment from any significant adverse impacts of proposed developments. The economic, social and cultural well-being of residents and communities are also factored into decision-making. In all cases, mechanisms are in place to ensure a greater role for Aboriginal people in land use planning, environmental assessment and regulation of land and water use.

Numerous federal resource management acts and regulations, such as the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Waters Act as well as settled land claims (and interim measures in advance of the settlement of claims), define the regulatory regime.

Acts and regulations

The regulatory system in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) was established as part of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement  (signed in 1984) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and remains distinct from the rest of the territory.

In the rest of the NWT, the regime was established under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA), which came into force in 1998. The MVRMA was originally developed in the context of the first Dene/Métis land claim negotiations in the 1980s. It has since grown out of subsequent regional land claim agreements and is designed to accommodate further agreements as they are set in the remaining regions.

Boards and committees

Much of the regulatory decisions over the land, water and environment are the responsibility of public boards and committees. The boards are responsible for preliminary screening of development proposals, environmental impact assessment and impact reviews, and the issuance of water licenses and land use permits. Boards are made up of representatives nominated by Aboriginal regions, the Government of Canada, and the Government of the Northwest Territories.