|The Nunavik Inuit Marine Region Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) was signed by the Nunavik Inuit (as represented by the Makivik Corporation) and the Canadian Government on 25 October, 2002. The AIP deals with the Nunavik Inuit claim to the offshore area comprising certain islands, waters and ice of Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay, which are under the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada and Nunavut. These areas are of particular significance to Nunavik Inuit for wildlife harvesting purposes. The AIP sets out the central elements to be included in the Final Agreement under which the Nunavik Inuit are to own in fee simple, 80 percent of the claimed islands. This is to include both surface and subsurface resources. There are also arrangements for resource royalty sharing, capital transfer and wildlife management. The AIP addresses only the Nunavut part of the Nunavik Inuit outstanding Aboriginal claim. Both the onshore and offshore portion of the Labrador portion of the claim have been accepted by Canada and remain to be addressed at a later time.|
|The Government of Canada accepted the Nunavik Inuit offshore claim as a comprehensive claim in 1992. Comprehensive land claim agreements provide land and resource rights to Aboriginal groups and enjoy constitutional protection. The signing of the AIP completes the second stage of the negotiations and functions as the basis for a Final Agreement.
The AIP recognizes the centrality of the Nunavik Marine Region (NMR) to the Nunavik Inuit and ‘affirms the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada’. Its broad objectives include:
The provision and clarification of rights of ownership and use of lands and resources, including marine resources;
Wildlife management and harvesting rights;
Participation of the Nunavik Inuit in economic opportunities;
The establishment of access arrangements to Nunavik Inuit owned lands; and
The provision of financial resources.
Article 2 of the AIP sets out the general provisions. The issues addressed include the application of federal, territorial and local government laws to the Nunavik Inuit and Nunavik Inuit Lands, issues of inconsistency of laws, amendment, consultation and ratification requirements, and powers of devolution to the Government of Nunavut. Article 2.2 establishes that the Final Agreement will ‘provide for certainty with respect to the use and ownership of lands and resources include marine resources in the Nunavik Marine Region’. It also establishes that the Final Agreement is ‘without prejudice to Nunavik Inuit aboriginal rights, title, interests and claims’ with respect to the Labrador claim. The general provisions of Article 2 also set out matters of jurisdiction and interpretation, and establish the procedure for continued good faith negotiations towards a Final Agreement to be concluded within 12 months of the signing of the AIP. Any person defined as Inuk under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement is eligible to enrol as a beneficiary of the Final Agreement.
Wildlife harvesting and management
Article 5 sets out provisions relating to wildlife management and harvesting. It recognizes the Nunavik Inuit’s traditional and continuing occupation and use of the NMR and the legal interests which flow from this. It provides for Inuit participation in all aspects of wildlife management and establishes that Inuit harvesting rights are subject to the principle of conservation. Accordingly, it requires the establishment of a Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board which is to comprise representatives from Makivik and from federal ministers for fish, marine mammals and wildlife. The Board is to be the main instrument of wildlife management and protection in the NMR.
Article 6 of the AIP requires the establishment of a Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission as an institution of public government to deal with issues of land use and management. Similarly, article 7 requires the establishment of a Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board to develop a regime for development impact assessment. Article 8 deals with title to Nunavik Inuit Lands which includes ‘those lands covered by water, except where a bank of a river, stream, lake or other water body forms a boundary of a parcel of Nunavik Inuit Lands or where, in the case of a lake or other water body, Nunavik Inuit Lands do not enclose the lake or water body.’ Nunavik Inuit Lands shall be held in fee simple including the mines and minerals that may be found to exist within, upon or under such lands. Title is to be held for and on behalf of all Nunavik Inuit and not for individual Nunavik Inuk or individual Nunavik communities. The Government retains the right to protect and manage water and land covered by water for public purposes. The primary purpose of Nunavik Inuit Lands is to provide Nunavik Inuit with rights in land that promote economic self-sufficiency of Nunavik Inuit, ‘in a manner consistent with Nunavik Inuit social and cultural needs and aspirations’ (see Article 9). Articles 10 and 11 set out the process for identification of Nunavik Inuit lands. Article 12 deals with the establishment and management of protected areas such as National Parks and Bird Sanctuaries to be overseen by a joint Nunavik/Government management advisory committee. Chapter 13 deals with public, government and third party access to Nunavik Inuit Lands. Outside of the Agreement, no person other than a Nunavik Inuk may enter, cross or remain on Nunavik Inuit Lands without the consent of the Makivik Corporation Designated Organisation.
Article 14 of the AIP establishes that the Government of Canada undertakes to provide Nunavik Inuit individuals and enterprises with priority with respect to federal Public Service employment and federal contract opportunities respectively, in the NMR.
Resources royalty sharing and capital transfer
The AIP sets out provisions for the Nunavik Inuit to be paid on an annual basis 50 percent of the first two million dollars of resource royalty received by Government in that year, and five percent of any additional resource royalty received by Government in that year (see Article 16). Article 17 requires the negotiation of a payment schedule for (tax free) capital transfer prior to the initialling of the Final Agreement. This is to include an initial payment and subsequent annual payments totalling $50 million.
The AIP also sets out provisions dealing with the archaeological record of Nunavik Inuit use and occupancy of lands and resources, and recognizes its cultural, spiritual, religious and educational importance to Nunavik Inuit. It recognizes the importance of the continued identification and preservation of such archaeological sites. Articles 23 to 26 set out the procedures for implementation, dispute resolution and ratification of the Final Agreement. An Implementation Plan is to be established in order to guide and monitor the ‘timely and effective’ implementation of the Final Agreement. Its objectives will include the identification of the obligations and activities required to implement the Agreement and the relevant parties responsible for such obligations and activities, establish funding arrangements, and implement review and information strategies. Articles 27 and 28 deal with overlapping claims and reciprocal arrangements between Nunavik Inuit and Inuit of Nunavut with respect to wildlife harvesting, joint ownership and management issues.|