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Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement

Date: 1 January 1992
Sub Category:Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement (Canada)
Place:Mackenzie Delta
State/Country:Northwest Territories, Canada
Subject Matter:Land Settlement | Recognition of Traditional Rights and Interests | Economic Development | Environmental Heritage | Self Government | Land Management | Mining and Minerals | Compensation
Summary Information:
The Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (GCLCA) was signed in 1992 by representatives of the Gwich'in people, the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories.

The Agreement transfers land title of approximately 23,000 square kilometres of land to the Gwich'in. Included in this total figure is approximately 6100 square kilometres of subsurface rights and 1554 square kilometres of surface rights in the Yukon. The Agreement also provides a capital transfer of (CDN) $75 million (1990$) to be distributed over fifteen years. Other key aspects of the Agreement are wildlife and harvesting rights, management provisions and resource royalties.

By signing the Agreement, the Gwich'in surrendered some rights arising from Treaty 11 for more defined rights. However, any rights not specifically given up continue to exist.
Detailed Information:

The GCLCA was negotiated to meet the following objectives:
- To set final rights to land and compensation;
- To ensure the Gwich'in have a right to participate in decision-making over land, water and resources; and
- To promote and maintain Gwich'in culture and sustainable development in the settlement area.

To benefit from the GCLCA, a person must have resided, used or occupied the Gwich'in Settlement Area on or before December 31, 1921, or be a descendant of such a person.

Chapter 5 of the GCLCA requires the signatories to enter into self-government negotiations. Any future self-government agreement shall not prejudice the rights of Gwich'in as Canadian citizens, but shall describe the nature, character and extent of self-government. The GCLCA acknowledges the need for constitutional reform in the Northwest Territories, and supports Gwich'in involvement in this process.

Under the GCLCA, the Gwich'in receive title in fee simple to 16,264 square kilometres of surface land in the Northwest Territories. A further 4,299 square kilometres of land, including subsurface rights, is granted to the Gwich'in. Gwich'in will also own approximately 1554 square kilometres of land in Yukon. The conveyance of title to the Gwich'in Tribal Council includes beds of rivers and lakes.

Financial Payments
The GCLCA provides that Canada shall make a payment of $75 million over fifteen years. This includes an advance payment of $2 million and $7 million at the time settlement legislation is passed. However, the GCLCA also stipulates that the Gwich'in Tribal Council pay back 15% of the loans made to Dene and Metis Associations of the Northwest Territories during the period 1975 to November 1990.

Resource Royalties are to be paid to the Gwich'in Tribal Council in accordance with Chapter 9 of the GCLCA. The royalties amount to 7.5% of the first $2million received in royalties by the Canadian Government, and 1.5% for any royalties received thereafter.

Chapter 12 details measures for wildlife harvesting and management. While the Canadian government maintains overall jurisdiction for wildlife and resource management, the GLCA does acknowledge the rights of Gwich'in to hunt, gather, trap and fish and supports their involvement in planning and management. Specifically, Gwich'in have an exclusive right to harvest wildlife on their lands. In the Gwich'in Settlement Area, Gwich'in have exclusive rights to fur bearers. Rights are less extensive in Yukon. Harvest quotas are set and maintained by a Renewable Resources Board.

Other Claims
Claims between the Gwich'in and Yukon are dealt with in the Yukon Transboundary Agreement (Appendix C of the GCLCA).

Gwich'in rights on Inuvialuit land are subject to the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. The Gwich'in may exchange or transfer their land or interests in the Western Arctic Region if both parties agree.

Implementation of the GCLCA is to be in accordance with an Implementation Plan.

Related Entries

  • Gwich'in and Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement-In-Principle for the Beaufort-Delta Region
  • Yukon Transboundary Agreement
  • Gwich'in Self-Government Framework Agreement
  • Gwichi’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement Implementation Plan 2003
  • Organisation
  • Government of Canada - Signatory
  • Government of the Northwest Territories - Signatory
  • Gwich'in Tribal Council
  • Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board
  • Legislation
  • Gwich'in Land Claim Settlement Act
  • Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (1988)
  • People
  • Gwich'in People

  • References

    Department of Justice Canada (1988) Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act (1998) c. 25
    Department of Justice Canada (1988) Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (1988)
    (2003) Gwich'in and Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement-In-Principle for the Beaufort-Delta Region
    (1992) Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (1992) Implementation Plan for the Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement 2003


    Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement (Canada)

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