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Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions concerning self-government? Inuvialuit Regional Corporation has prepared a selection of frequently asked questions to better your understanding on this topic.
If your question is not listed or answered below, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to provide you with relevant information.
The Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) is an agreement between the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories. It describes the jurisdictions and authorities of the future Inuvialuit Government and clarifies the relationship that will exist between the three levels of government. It will allow for the establishment of a future Inuvialuit Government, bringing more decision-making powers closer to the Inuvialuit communities.
While it is not a legally binding document, the AIP is a significant milestone toward achieving a final agreement. The final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement will be legally binding once ratified by all three parties.
The Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) is a major milestone toward achieving a final agreement. It provides a sense of what a final agreement will look like and allows the parties to start preparing for the changes that a final agreement will bring. 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 its content. Now that the three parties have signed the AIP, they have begun to negotiate the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement, which is the final stage of negotiations.
The Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) was signed June 5, 1984, and was given Royal Assent on July 25, 1984.
The IFA 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 Self-Government Agreement will not conflict with the IFA. The IFA's institutions, like the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and Inuvialuit Game Council, will continue to be responsible for the implementation of the IFA.
The final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement will include law-making authorities of the Inuvialuit Government, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Canada. The final Self-Government Agreement would enable the Inuvialuit Government to pass laws and to deliver programs and services established by those laws.
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.
The future Inuvialuit Government will create laws and will have other powers and responsibilities regarding Inuvialuit. The Inuvialuit Government will have the power to make and enforce Inuvialuit laws, design policies and programs, and deliver programs and services to Inuvialuit. The Inuvialuit Government will have powers over matters such as language and culture, health and social services, social assistance, education, economic development and justice.
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.
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 hamlet councils are examples of public governments.
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 the final 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, Inuvialuit will still be able to vote for their town or hamlet councils, their Member of the Legislative Assembly and their Member of Parliament.
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 education 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 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 Canadian or territorial residents. These include programs such as the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Employment Insurance and the Territorial Health Insurance Program.
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 funding is available to the Inuvialuit for training and capacity building activities to support the skills required for new self-government responsibilities.
Negotiations toward a final agreement have begun now that representatives of the Parties (the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation) 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.
Now that the Agreement-in-Principle 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. Inuvialuit would then hold a vote of all eligible Inuvialuit to approve the final Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement. Then, the governments of the Northwest Territories and Canada would need to approve the final agreement according to their processes and introduce legislation into the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories and the Parliament of Canada.
We are hoping to complete negotiations within the next two to four years. We will also need to have a financial agreement and implementation plan and approve the Inuvialuit Government's constitution. The approval process will include all Inuvialuit beneficiaries voting on the final agreement. If they approve it then the Legislative Assembly and Parliament will need to approve it as well.
The Inuvialuit Constitution will ensure that the Inuvialuit Government is accountable to Inuvialuit. The Constitution will protect the rights and freedoms of Inuvialuit and provide for the establishment and maintenance of the relationships between the Inuvialuit Government and the Inuvialuit corporations established under the IFA, so they work together to serve the Inuvialuit.
The Constitution will outline the structure of the Inuvialuit Government and set out guidelines to determine who is eligible to nominate candidates for Inuvialuit Council elections, who may vote in the elections, who may hold office in the Inuvialuit Council, the powers and duties of the Councillors, their length of term of office, as well as the procedures for the Council and Councillors to carry out their respective powers and duties.
The Constitution will also provide for the enactment of Inuvialuit Laws, the amendment of the Constitution itself, and a system of financial administration which will ensure that the Inuvialuit Government will be financially accountable to Inuvialuit.
Establishing the Inuvialuit Government will give the Inuvialuit a number of abilities that we do not have right now. Some of those abilities include:
- Creating laws about programs or services for Inuvialuit. These include areas such as education, child and family services and income support, among others.
- Generating revenue as a legal government.
- Creating programs and services for Inuvialuit that reflect Inuvialuit priorities.
- Creating a regional service agency that ensures the programs and services of both the Inuvialuit Government and the GNWT are delivered efficiently and effectively in our communities.
Creating a government for Inuvialuit, made up of Inuvialuit, means that we will be better able to address the needs of our people. For example:
- Your government representative would have a vote on things that could affect your life, such as how best to provide education to Inuvialuit.
- The Inuvialuit Government could create laws and policies about programs and services designed for Inuvialuit.
- Inuvialuit culture and language can be reflected in our government’s programs and services.
- Any programs and services developed under the Inuvialuit Government can be delivered in a way that is best suited to your community.
- The close relationships in our communities means that your Inuvialuit Government representative can be easily reached and available.
Although the Inuvialuit established our land claim in 1984, the federal government did not recognize the inherent right to self-government until 1995, meaning it would not negotiate self-government agreements before then.
In 1996, the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in began negotiating a joint self-government agreement. An agreement-in-principle was reached in 2003, but soon afterward the Gwich’in decided to pursue their own self-government options.
In 2006, IRC began negotiating a new agreement on behalf of the Inuvialuit, and an agreement-in-principle was signed in 2015 by the Inuvialuit, the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories. The three parties are now negotiating the final agreement and other related pieces.
All governments are responsible for making laws and delivering programs and services. But the types of laws they can make and the types of programs and services they can deliver are often different. Representation can also be different between the levels of government.
The Inuvialuit Government will be able to create laws about programs and services for Inuvialuit, and then deliver those programs and services. These include areas such as education, child and family services and income support, among others. The Inuvialuit Government will also be able to collect revenues as a legal government. You will be represented by people from your community, either through your community council, direct elections to the new government, or both.
Other levels of government, such as the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), or your municipal government, also create and deliver programs and services within the scope of their powers. These could include things such as health benefits for Indigenous people (federal), NWT-wide education (territorial) and garbage collection (municipal). Each level of government collects its own taxes, and can receive funding in other ways as well. For each of these types of government, you are represented by a person elected from your riding (federal and territorial) or your community (municipal).
In many cases, the areas in which the Inuvialuit Government can choose to deliver programs and services will be similar to those of the GNWT. However, while GNWT programs and services apply to all NWT residents, the Inuvialuit Government programs and services will only be for Inuvialuit.
The exact model of representation on the Inuvialuit Government Council has not been decided yet. What is clear is that there will be an ataniq (leader) and representatives from either the community councils or community corporations. The ataniq could be elected by the community council board of directors or by all eligible Inuvialuit. The details are still being discussed by Inuvialuit leadership.
Although self-government negations have been ongoing for more than 20 years, we are now closer than ever to making Inuvialuit self-government a reality. The negotiators for the Inuvialuit, Government of Canada and Government of the NWT reached an agreement-in-principle in 2015. The three parties have since begun the work of negotiating a final agreement, financial agreements and an implementation plan.
Once these agreements are in place, they will have to be ratified by the Inuvialuit. This means that you will be asked to vote on whether you support them.
The details have yet to be worked out on exactly how the governance councils for the Inuvialuit Government and IRC will differ. However, for day-to-day work, the Inuvialuit Government will be responsible for making laws and delivering programs and services for Inuvialuit, while IRC will continue to represent the Inuvialuit and our rights and benefits under the land claim.