Harper Government, Government of NWT and Aboriginal Parties Sign Final Devolution Agreement

Ref. #2-3824

In this photo: Left to Right (front row) Minister Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada), Premier Bob MacLeod (Premier of the Northwest Territories)

Left to Right (back row) William Koe (Chief, Fort McPherson), Duane Smith (President, Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada), Robert A. Alexie (President, Gwichin Tribal Council), Charlie Football (Chief, Wekweti), Clifford Daniels (Chief, Behchoko), James Heron (Chief Negotiator, Northwest Territory Metis Nation), Nellie Cournoyea (Chair and CEO, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation), Garry Bailey (President, NWT Metis Nation), Paul Komaromi (Policy Regional Affairs Advisor, AANDC), Michael Miltenberger (Minister of Finance / Chairman of the Financial Management Board / Minister of Environment and Natural Resources / Minister Responsible for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation/Government House Leader)

Inuvik, Northwest Territories (June 25, 2013) - The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, on behalf of the Government of Canada, today joined the Honourable Robert McLeod, Premier of the Government of the Northwest Territories; Nellie Cournoyea, CEO/Chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation; Garry Bailey, President of the Northwest Territory Métis Nation; Charles McNeely, Vice-President of the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated; Robert A. Alexie, President of the Gwich'in Tribal Council; and Chief Clifford Daniels of the Tłįchǫ Government for the final signing of the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement.

"Today's signing is an historic milestone for the Northwest Territories and for Canada," said Minister Valcourt. "Since 2006, devolution and self-government negotiations with the territories have been a priority for our Government. The final agreement signed today will provide jurisdiction over lands and resources, giving residents control over their own destiny and creating the conditions for economic growth, jobs and long-term prosperity for the people of the Northwest Territories."

The Devolution Agreement takes effect the moment it is signed and the parties are working toward an effective date of April 2014 for the transfer of responsibilities to the territorial government.

"This agreement will allow the Government of the Northwest Territories and its partner Aboriginal governments to create a strong and prosperous territory for our people," said Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod. "We look forward to a future where Northerners make decisions about resource development in our territory, and are able to ensure sustainable development will benefit our residents and align with our own priorities and values."

"This signing comes as a result of the hard work and perseverance of all the negotiators. We appreciate their efforts," said Nellie Cournoyea, Inuvialuit Chair and CEO. "Inuvialuit will continue to actively participate in the implementation process."

"It's been a long road to get here, but well worth the trip! The Gwich'in remain committed to the devolution process and working with other governments in the future on this and other projects that will be beneficial to the north," said Robert A. Alexie, President of the Gwich'in Tribal Council.

"Now that the Devolution Agreement has been approved, the Northwest Territory Métis Nation will continue to actively participate in devolution implementation to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities and maintain constructive working relationships. At the same time, the Métis Nation will continue to build upon sound working relationships with other Aboriginal governments who are party to the Agreement in order to strengthen our common interests," said Garry Bailey, President of the Northwest Territory Métis Nation.

The Devolution Agreement transfers the administration and management of public lands, water resources, mineral resources and oil and gas management from the Government of Canada to the Government of the Northwest Territories. The Devolution Agreement contains specific provisions designed to ensure that devolution does not negatively affect Aboriginal rights or ongoing land claim negotiations in the Northwest Territories.

Today's announcement highlights the Government's commitment, set out in Canada's Northern Strategy, to work with Northern and Aboriginal partners to build a strong and prosperous North.

For more information, please contact:

Minister's Office
Andrea Richer
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Bernard Valcourt
Media Relations
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

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