Nunavut wants a say on overlapping Kivalliq land claims

Ottawa and northern Manitoba Dene have been in negotiations for years over land along Nunavut's border

By SARAH ROGERS

Nunavut premier Joe Savikataaq says he's pressing Ottawa to allow the GN to join negotiations between the federal government a group of northern Manitoba Dene who have asserted harvesting rights along the province’s northern border and into Nunavut. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)


Nunavut premier Joe Savikataaq says he’s pressing Ottawa to allow the GN to join negotiations between the federal government a group of northern Manitoba Dene who have asserted harvesting rights along the province’s northern border and into Nunavut. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

This map shows the proposed settlement areas in Nunavut's Kivalliq region. The brown line shows settlement areas proposed by the Ghotelnene K’odtineh Dene. The purple and light green lines show settlement areas proposed by the Athabasca Dene. The dark green line shows the proposed settlement areas proposed by Inuit. (SCREEN SHOT)


This map shows the proposed settlement areas in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region. The brown line shows settlement areas proposed by the Ghotelnene K’odtineh Dene. The purple and light green lines show settlement areas proposed by the Athabasca Dene. The dark green line shows the proposed settlement areas proposed by Inuit. (SCREEN SHOT)

The Government of Nunavut says it wants to play a bigger role in negotiations between the federal government and the Sayisi Dene and Northlands Denesuline of northern Manitoba, who for decades have asserted treaty rights to land on the Nunavut side of the Nunavut-Manitoba boundary.

These talks focus on Dene lands in the southern part of the Kivalliq region that in 1993 became part of Nunavut.

The negotiations date back to that year, when the Ghotelnene K’odtineh Dene filed a statement of claim against Ottawa, claiming the federal government had breached its fiduciary duty to the Dene when it finalized the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

The federal government has been in out-of-court settlement negotiations with the group since the late 1990s.

At the same time, the Dene have asked for blocks of land on the Nunavut side of the boundary.

In 2016, the federal government withdrew 22,500 square kilometres of Crown land in the Kivalliq region for use in a future treaty rights settlement.

“The boundaries identified for the interim land withdrawal are the result of negotiations and are the lands that may become settlement lands pending consultations and the final agreement,” the federal government said in 2016.

It’s unclear where those parties are right now in their discussions, but Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq said the territory has been largely left out of the process.

“We are not a true party to the negotiations,” Savikataaq said in question period at the legislature Nov. 5.

“We do get updates on it and right now we are having a disagreement, because the federal government believes that we do not have to be a signatory to the agreement as part of the negotiation process.”

Instead, the GN holds observer status. But that prevents the GN from having a say in how the agreement could impact its own land, water and wildlife resources, Savikataaq said.

The premier said the agreement could also have implications for Nunavut institutions of public government, like Nunavut’s wildlife boards or its impact review board.

“[Our] position is that we should be and have to be a signatory to this agreement,” he said. “We are in support of the negotiations but want to sign onto it once negotiations are complete.”

Arviat North–Whale Cove MLA John Main, who raised the issue Nov. 5, said his constituents are concerned about what an agreement could mean for their harvesting rights in the region.

“They want further information on what is happening currently,” Main said. “Further, it will impact some Arviat residents who are the Ahiarmiut, Kingajjualingmiut, and others who have valid concerns about their traditional clan areas.”

The community should get some answers soon; the Kivalliq Inuit Association-led Dene Overlap Working Group is set to host a public meeting at Arviat’s community hall on Nov. 13.

Ghotlenene Kodtineh Dene Br… by on Scribd

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