Trudeau, Akeeagok to sign ‘largest land transfer in Canada’s history’

Devolution to take effect in 2027

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talk during a May 2023 meeting in Ottawa. Akeeagok says devolution is a topic he has brought up during “every biltareral meeting” they have held since he became premier in 2021. Trudeau is scheduled to arrive in Iqaluit Thursday to sign a devolution agreement that will transfer authority of Crown lands to the Government of Nunavut. (Photo courtesy of P.J. Akeeagok/Twitter)

By Jeff Pelletier
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nunavut’s devolution agreement will be the “largest land transfer in Canada’s history,” according to a news release from the prime minister’s office, obtained by Nunatsiaq News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday night he was scheduled to fly to Iqaluit Thursday to sign the agreement with Premier P.J. Akeeagok and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk.

The signing ceremony will take place in the afternoon, according to Trudeau’s public itinerary. That will be followed by a news conference and a community celebration in the evening.

The agreement covers the transfer of authority over Crown lands from the federal government to the Government of Nunavut.

Details of the devolution agreement will not be public until its signed. But it will outline new powers for  Nunavummiut to make decisions about how public lands, freshwater, and nonrenewable resources are used in the territory, according to a statement obtained by Nunatsiaq News.

Trudeau called the agreement the result of “strong, collaborative relationships” with Nunavut and NTI, in the release.

“As we walk this shared path of reconciliation, the most important decisions to impact Nunavut will be made in Nunavut, by its people, and for its people,” he said in the release.

Akeeagok said in the release that the agreement is about bringing things “home.”

“While it has taken generations of our leaders to achieve this work, today’s signing of the devolution agreement is primarily for young Nunavummiut across our territory,” he said in the release.

All other provinces and territories already have devolution agreements with the federal government.

Akeeagok has frequently spoken about devolution since he became premier in 2021.

“That’s something I’ve mentioned every bilateral meeting I’ve had with the prime minister, and I will continue to advocate for,” Akeeagok said in a 2023 interview.

“There’s mineral riches that are on Crown land and they would allow us to be able to build the economies that we see as a territory, and really, that’s the next chapter in our territory’s history that I’m very much looking forward to seeing concluded.”

The GN, federal government and NTI have engaged in devolution talks since 2014.

Those discussions stalled in late 2015 when Trudeau’s Liberals ousted Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in the federal election.

In 2019, the federal government and Nunavut signed a devolution agreement-in-principle outlining a five-year path to reach a final agreement.

“By devolving federal responsibilities, Nunavummiut will have the ability and the means to manage their decisions on how our public lands, freshwater and non-renewable resources are used and developed within Nunavut,” then-premier Joe Savikataaq said at the time.

Thursday’s visit will be Trudeau’s first to the Nunavut capital since a 2021 federal election campaign stop. His most recent trip to the territory was in 2022 when he visited Cambridge Bay with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

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(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    Shame what a waste, the GN isn’t ready for this, this is to the benefit of a few, some friends of friends etc… give it more time what is the rush?

    On the other this could work out very well for all.

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    • Posted by Robert on

      This is so wrong on every level. We are going backwards to living in tribes that will eventually be at each other’s throat just like the old days. We are all Canadians in the same boat, but if you don’t like that, get out of our boat and make one for yourself.

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      • Posted by Richard Coates on

        To make a long store short..
        Nationalize and send out 40 million flags..and get on with the hockey game..before others take us over..

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      • Posted by Kila on

        Returning land that was stolen is the right thing to do. If colonizers don’t like that, they can leave and their ancestral home should be ok with having them back.

        Cheers

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        • Posted by Bottomless pit on

          If you are unable to control your land you were never sovereign.

          Frankly I think Nunavut should be cut loose from confederation, it is a drain on Canada and will always be so.

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    • Posted by monty sling on

      Why is Nunavut always on deferred/waiting game? GN/Nunavut has grabbed the bull by the horns, why not just take a go of it? To cautions, not getting on the economic train of the country and this train is heading to NWT and Yukon, if we hesitate, this train will go on it’s journey to Alaska. Most beneficial commodities; Iron Ore and Gold just might be depleted of $$$ for the territory. Remember Nanisivik and other little companies? Minerals are non-renewable resources….

  2. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    Where are all these new positions with the GN going to live in. We already have a dire shortage of housing everywhere in Nunavut

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    • Posted by Jonah on

      GN will become leaseholders of the GC housing units for those whom to move over to the GN.

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  3. Posted by John on

    “There’s mineral riches that are on Crown land and they would allow us to be able to build the economies that we see as a territory, and really, that’s the next chapter in our territory’s history that I’m very much looking forward to seeing concluded.”

    What an interesting statement from a guy who didn’t support utilization of mineral riches when he was QIA president and hasn’t done much to champion it as Premier either.

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    • Posted by Lucretius on

      Of course our Premier has to sound pro-development. He has to say he wants development to regulate in order for the Feds to hand the GN the positions, buildings and operating funds that are used to manage what little is already going on.

      If there is no future development, there is no need to spend a cent or lift a finger managing lands and waters in Nunavut.

      The true test of whether we have a Premier that wants to see development will be after Devolution occurs.

      At that point, our Premier could just as easily say Nunavut should be one big park or a sort of big Indian Reservation for Inuit, absorb all the federal funding, terminate the management jobs, convert the staff housing to public housing, and use these funds that would then be part of the territorial finance formula for culture or harvesting or something else that is the flavor of the day. GN would have that legitimate choice.

      The only thing preventing this would be the Nunavut voter, as it should be. The voter will have to make a conscious decision to elect MLA candidates that have a vision for development they agree with, either for or against. And, MLAs so voted in will have to adhere to their promises or risk getting kicked out.

      Devolution is a wake up call for all Nunavummuit to put their big boy pants on. Real, consequential choices are coming our way. We can tolerate a flip flopping Premier now. Later, not so much.

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      • Posted by Jonah on

        “Of course our Premier has to sound pro-development. He has to say he wants development to regulate in order for the Feds to hand the GN the positions, buildings and operating funds that are used to manage what little is already going on.

        If there is no future development, there is no need to spend a cent or lift a finger managing lands and waters in Nunavut.”

        Bring back Peter Taptuna. He had no quibbles about bring pro-development. But his views didn’t sit well with his handlers.

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  4. Posted by art thompson on

    this is sort of a joke. nunavut gets powers to administer lands and waters. gn going to beef up the department of environment with another 50 to 100 positions with the extra cash that comes with the powers? where are those staff positions to be filled? from the current ranks of unemployed uneducated inuit. premier will have come and gone before this even takes a baby step.

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  5. Posted by Cuggies Rock on

    That’s so scary.
    Can we, (Nunavut) please hand over the reins back to Yellowknife? Before it’s too late?

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  6. Posted by Cuggies Rock on

    Please don’t Premier Akeeagok
    Please don’t. 😥
    You don’t realize what you’re doing to us and our children and grandchildren.
    Not right now. Wait…

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  7. Posted by Richard Coates on

    To make a long store short..
    Nationalize and send out 40 million flags..and get on with the hockey game..before others take us over..

  8. Posted by Vlad on

    It’s all moot anyway. In 50-years time there won’t be anyone still living in Nunavut. We will all be living elsewhere, refugees from the high cost of living here, or we will be speaking Chinese or Russian.

    • Posted by hermann kliest on

      Wrong, you can go elsewhere, this is my home territory, my family, kids were born in the territory, we are staying at all cost. You can go…now if you want.

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  9. Posted by eskimo joe on

    Laurel and Hardy at conversation table; “How’s the family?” Very good…he say.
    “you better plan on moving to BC soon” ” Nunavut economy is about to collapses. ” “leave the sinking ship” “Do you have a fall guy?” “Yes. Devolution Team…”

  10. Posted by Paul on

    This government has been so willing to work with Nunavut on a lot of things, more funding being spent on Nunavut, GN working closer together with the feds, more meetings and projects underway throughout Nunavut. But then there is NTI.

    It makes me think where has NTI been? NTI has been so closed off and mute in relations to working with governments, partnerships seem to be at an all time low at NTI, they don’t seem to want to work with anyone. Nice to see the President next to the PM and Premier at this event but for the most part NTI has been so closed to the public and other governments, I just recently found out NTI had set up a whole new department a few years ago that they don’t report on or give any information about it.
    What is going on at NTI? Besides the usual poor me statements we do not hear from NTI at all anymore in the communities.

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