Frequently Asked Questions: Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle
Q1. What is the Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle (AIP)?
The AIP is an agreement among the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation , the Government of Canada (Canada) and the Government of the Northwest Territories that describes the jurisdictions and authorities of the future Inuvialuit Government and clarifies the relationship among the Inuvialuit Government, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Canada.
Self-government will allow for the establishment of a future Inuvialuit Government, bringing more decision-making powers closer to the Inuvialuit communities.
The AIP sets out areas of agreement among the Parties (Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories) on most of the subjects under negotiation. The AIP is very advanced, and in many cases contains the level of detail that one would expect to see in a final agreement.
While it is not a legally binding document, the AIP is a major milestone toward achieving a final agreement. The final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement will be legally binding once ratified by the three Parties.
Q2. What is the significance of reaching the AIP stage?
The AIP is a major milestone toward achieving a final agreement. The AIP provides a sense of what a final agreement will look like and allows the Parties to start preparing for the changes which a final agreement will bring. It signals that the Parties have been able to make significant progress toward reaching a final agreement. It is the basis on which a final agreement will be negotiated.
The publication and distribution of the AIP provides the Inuvialuit as well as residents of the Western Arctic Region with the opportunity to review the content of the AIP.
Now that the AIP has been signed by the three Parties, they have begun to negotiate the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement, which is the next and final stage of negotiations.
Q3. What is the basis for the AIP negotiations?
The federal government bases its participation in negotiations on its Inherent Right Policy, which recognizes that Aboriginal people have the right to self-government. This is based on the fact that Aboriginal peoples governed themselves before European contact and never gave up that right.
In 2007, the Parties signed a Process and Schedule Agreement, which sets out how the Parties will carry out negotiations. The Parties have agreed that the self-government agreement must be consistent with the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.
Q4. How is the Inuvialuit Final Agreement different from the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement?
The Inuvialuit Final Agreement was signed June 5, 1984 and was given Royal Assent on July 25, 1984.
The Inuvialuit Final Agreement is a comprehensive land claim settlement agreement and deals with land and harvesting rights, participation in the management of land and wildlife, and financial compensation. The final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement will not conflict with the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. The Inuvialuit Final Agreement institutions (for example Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and Inuvialuit Game Council) will continue to be responsible for the implementation of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.
The final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement will include law-making authorities of the Inuvialuit Government and clarify the relationship among the Inuvialuit Government, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Canada. The final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement would enable the Inuvialuit Government to pass laws and to deliver programs and services established by those laws.
Q5. What will the Inuvialuit Government look like?
The Inuvialuit will develop and approve their own constitution, which will set out the structure for government. There will be at least one representative from each Inuvialuit community in the Western Arctic Region to sit on the Inuvialuit Council and one leader (Ataniq) who will be elected at-large by all Inuvialuit who are eligible to vote.
The constitution will recognize the traditional roles and responsibilities of elders and youth within the Inuvialuit Government.
Q6. What will the Inuvialuit Government be able to do?
The future Inuvialuit Government will create laws and will have other powers and responsibilities regarding Inuvialuit. The Inuvialuit Government will have power to make and enforce Inuvialuit laws, design policies and programs, and deliver programs and services to the Inuvialuit. Inuvialuit laws will apply to those Inuvialuit who live in the Western Arctic Region, which includes the communities of Aklavik, Inuvik, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk, and Ulukhaktok.
The Inuvialuit Government would have powers over matters such as language and culture, health, social services, social assistance, education, economic development, and justice.
Q7. What is the difference between an Aboriginal government and public government?
A public government represents and serves all residents in an area, and is elected by eligible voters in that area. The Government of the Northwest Territories and the town or hamlet councils are examples of public governments. The Parties attempted to negotiate a public government for the Beaufort-Delta Region but these negotiations did not result in a final agreement.
The Inuvialuit focused their negotiations on the establishment of an Aboriginal government, meaning it is a government for the Inuvialuit, and will serve the Inuvialuit of the Western Arctic Region. The Inuvialuit Government will have authority under thefinal Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement to provide programs and services to Inuvialuit. Only Inuvialuit will get to vote for representatives of the Inuvialuit Government.
The final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement will clarify the responsibilities of and the relationship between the Inuvialuit Government, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Canada. As community and NWT residents, the Inuvialuit will still be able to vote for their town or hamlet councils, their Member of the Legislative Assembly and their Member of Parliament.
Benefits and Impact
Q8. What benefits are expected for Inuvialuit as a result of the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement?
The Inuvialuit Government will have authority over matters of importance to the Inuvialuit people. Some of these matters include: Inuvialuit culture and language, social programs, and educational programs for the training and development of Inuvialuit children and adults.
Self-government will allow the Inuvialuit to set their own priorities, and to make decisions regarding their future. By bringing decision-making closer to the community, the programs and services developed and delivered can be better suited to the needs of the Inuvialuit. There are self-government agreements in place all across Canada.
The ISGA will set out a practical means to implement the inherent right to self-government.
Q9. What will happen to my current benefits as an Inuvialuk from the federal and territorial governments after self-government?
There are federal and territorial programs and services for which the Inuvialuit Government will not assume responsibility and these will continue to be provided to the Inuvialuit as for all Canadians or territorial residents. These include programs such as the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Employment Insurance and the Territorial Health Insurance Program.
Q10. How will non-Inuvialuit be affected by the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement?
In general, the Inuvialuit Government’s law making powers under the agreement will not apply to non-Inuvialuit. All non-Inuvialuit in the Western Arctic Region will continue to have access to all federal and territorial government programs and services for which they are eligible.
If non-Inuvialuit are directly affected by Inuvialuit Government decisions, the AIP recognizes the principle that persons directly affected by government decisions should have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process for the management and delivery of those programs and services.
Q11. Are other parties being consulted about the AIP?
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation has communicated broadly within their communities and within the Western Arctic Region. The Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Gwich’in Indian Act bands have also been consulted about the AIP.
The public release of the AIP is intended to provide members of the public the opportunity to learn about and comment on the AIP. The Parties will welcome comments from the public.
Q12. Will Inuvialuit residents in the Western Arctic Region receive the same level of programs and services as other residents in the Northwest Territories?
Yes. The Government of the Northwest Territories and Canada will continue to deliver their programs and services. In the event that the Inuvialuit Government passes a law and creates a program or service, the Government of the Northwest Territories and/or Canada might no longer deliver that program or service to Inuvialuit. The Inuvialuit Government will be able to design and deliver comparable programs and services in ways that better suit the needs of Inuvialuit in their communities.
The Government of the Northwest Territories will continue to provide services such as highways, airports, municipal services and Government of the Northwest Territories health care services.
Canada will continue to provide services such as the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Employment Insurance, National Defence (for example Canadian Rangers), Coast Guard, etc.
Funding and Support
Q13. How will Inuvialuit self-government be funded?
The Parties will periodically negotiate fiscal transfers in a manner that is consistent with the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement. Canada will be guided by the prevailing fiscal policy for financing Aboriginal governments.
Q14. Are there any plans to assist Inuvialuit residents in preparing for new responsibilities under self-government?
The Inuvialuit Government will have strategies in place to address appropriate skills training and capacity development before exercising law-making authority, and this may be reflected in an Implementation Plan. . Some existing federal program funding is available to the Inuvialuit for training and capacity building activities to support the skills required for new self-government responsibilities.
Q15. What are the next steps?
Negotiations towards a final agreement have begun now that representatives of the Parties have signed the AIP. These negotiations will address matters that are not covered by the AIP and are necessary to complete and approve a self-government agreement.
Q16. How is a final agreement approved or ratified?
Now that the AIP has been signed, the Parties have begun to negotiate the final agreement. Once those negotiations are complete, the Parties will carry out an approval process for the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement. First, the Board of Directors of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation will decide whether to recommend the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement for approval. The Inuvialuit would then hold a vote of all eligible Inuvialuit to approve the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement. If the Inuvialuit approve the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Canada would need to approve the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement according to their processes and then introduce legislation in to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories and the Parliament of Canada.