Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement 2003
|29 August 2003
|Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement (Canada)
|Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
|Compensation | Cultural Heritage | Economic Development | Education | Environmental Heritage | Health and Community Services | Land Management | Land Transaction | Mining and Minerals | Recognition of Traditional Rights and Interests | Self Government | Land Settlement
|The Labrador Inuit Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement (the Agreement) was initialled by the Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA) on 29 August 2003. Before taking effect, it must be ratified by the Labrador Inuit, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Canada. The Agreement sets out the arrangements for land ownership, resource-sharing and self-government. It provides for the establishment of the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area (LISA) over 72,520 square kilometres in northern Labrador, and includes fee simple ownership of 15,800 square kilometres known as Labrador Inuit Lands (LIL). The Agreement also requires the establishment of the Torngat Mountains National Park reserve covering an area of approximately 9,600 square kilometres of land within LISA. The Agreement contains provisions for capital transfer of 140 million dollars (Canadian) from the Canadian Government to the Labrador Inuit and an additional 156 million dollars for the implementation of the Agreement.
The self-government provisions of the Agreement require the preparation of a Labrador Inuit Constitution as well as the creation of an Inuit Central Government to be known as the Nunatsiavut Government. Five local governments will also be established, along with Community Corporations whose role will be to represent the interests of any Inuit residing outside of the Settlement Area. All levels of government will be democratically elected and accountable to the electorate. The legislative powers of the Nunatsiavut Government will extend to the making of laws applicable to the Inuit in LIL with respect to culture and language, education, health and social services. In addition, legislative authority will cover laws necessary to administration, law enforcement and justice.
The initialling of the Final Agreement by the Chief Negotiators of the respective parties represents the commencement of the ratification process by the Labrador Inuit.
|Chronology of events
The LIA first filed its statement of claim entitled ‘A Statement of Claim to Certain Rights in the Land and Sea-Ice in Northern Labrador’ with the Canadian Government in 1977. It was accepted for negotiation in 1978. The Government of Newfoundland agreed to participate in negotiations in 1980. Ten years later in 1990, a Framework Agreement setting out the process and extent of negotiations, was signed by the LIA, Canada and Newfoundland.
A verbal agreement was reached in 1987 wherein the parties decided in general terms upon matters of land quantum, resources revenue sharing, capital transfer and self-government arrangements. In 1998, a verbal agreement was reached for an Agreement-in-Principle (AIP). This was eventually signed in 1999 after which time the parties presented the AIP to their respective electorates for ratification. Of those Labrador Inuit who voted, 80 percent were in favour of ratification. During the course of 2000, the negotiating parties continued with land selection negotiations, as well as community information and consultation programs. These were concluded in March 2001 and the AIP was signed on 25 June 2001. In November 2001, the three parties signed an Interim Measures Agreement to protect Inuit rights and benefits negotiated in the AIP. The Final Agreement itself was initialled by the LIA, Canada and Newfoundland on 29 August 2003.
The Agreement constitutes a final settlement of the Aboriginal rights of the Labrador Inuit and comprehensively sets out rights which are recognised and protected by s 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982. In signing the Agreement, the Labrador Inuit cede all their Aboriginal rights outside of LIL (and including rights to subsurface resources in LIL), in exchange for those rights specified in the Agreement. They retain all other rights in LIL. The terms of the Agreement apply only to the Labrador Inuit and do not affect the Aboriginal rights of any other Aboriginal people with respect to the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area. Provisions of overlap agreements may be set out in the Agreement. Nothing in the Agreement affects Labrador Inuit rights as citizens of Canada. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is to apply to the Inuit Government. The Agreement may only be amended with the consent of the three signatory parties. All negotiations under the Agreement are to be conducted in good faith.
Eligibility and Enrolment
Chapter 3 of the Agreement sets out the eligibility criteria for determining the beneficiaries of the Agreement. Beneficiaries may be permanent residents of the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area or may be eligible as a result of other considerations such as Inuit ancestry, Inuit customs and traditions, adoption, or connection the LISA. Community enrolment committees will establish preliminary lists of beneficiaries. The Nunatsiavut Government will publish the final register of beneficiaries.
Lands and Non-renewable Resources
Chapter 4 of the Agreement sets out comprehensively the provisions for Inuit land ownership and arrangements for resource revenue sharing. The Agreement establishes two categories of land, being the LIL and the LISA. The LISA, consisting of 72,520 square kilometres of land and 48,690 square kilometres of ocean, extends to the outskirts of Canada’s territorial sea. The LISA comprises the Labrador Inuit Lands as well as the five Inuit communities of Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet. The Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve is to be established in an area covering 9,600 square kilometres where Labrador Inuit will have special rights. The LIL area, covering 25,800 square kilometres, will be owned in fee simple by the Inuit. Here, the Inuit will enjoy exclusive rights to carving stone, ownership of quarry materials, and a 25 percent interest in subsurface resources. Presently existing holdings of mineral rights in LIL will continue to be regulated by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador although those seeking subsurface exploration permits in the future will be required to seek approval from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Nunatsiavut Government.
Water Management and Inuit Water Rights
Chapter 5 establishes Inuit rights to water use for domestic and personal purposes across the Settlement Area. Future commercial developers on LIL are required to seek a permit from the Province, which is only to be issued with approval from the Nunatsiavut Government. Where any developer in the Settlement Area proposes use which may affect the quality, quantity, or rate of flow of water on or adjacent to LIL, they must negotiate a compensation agreement with the Nunatsiavut Government.
The Settlement Area extends to an adjacent ocean zone wherein any initiatives to develop marine management plans or non-renewable resources will first require consultation with the Nunatsiavut Government. Chapter 6 of the Agreement also requires Inuit impacts and benefits agreements (IBAs) for any major developments in the area.
The Nunatsiavut Government is to receive 25 percent of provincial government revenues from subsurface developments in LIL. In Settlement Areas outside of LIL, it is to receive 50 percent of the first two million dollars and five percent of subsequent provincial revenue. The Nunatsiavut Government is also to receive five percent of provincial revenues from the Voisey’s Bay nickel mining area (see Chapter 8).
National Parks and Protected Areas
Chapter 9 sets out provisions for the establishment of the Torngate National Park reserve to take effect on the Effective Date of the Agreement. The Agreement also provides for the establishment of other protected areas in LIL, and requires that the proposals of any subsequent protected areas in the LISA require the completion of a protected area agreement with the Nunatsiavut Government. The carrying out of any archaeological activities within national parks or reserves also requires consultation with the Nunatsiavut Government.
Land Use Planning and Environmental Assessment
Chapters 10 sets out the provisions for land use planning in the Settlement Area. It requires a comprehensive plan to be developed by the Province and the Nunatsiavut Government. Chapter 11 provides that federal and provincial environmental assessment laws will continue to apply across the Settlement Area.
Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries
Labrador Inuit will have rights to harvest wildlife, plants, fish and marine mammals for food and social purposes throughout the LISA. Any limits to be imposed will be determined by the federal or provincial Minister upon recommendation of the Nunatsiavut Government. With some exceptions, the Nunatsiavut Government will control who may harvest plants and wildlife and fish within the Settlement Area. Existing commercial fishing licenses will not be affected by the Agreement, however the Inuit will receive a percentage of revenues from new commercial fishing licenses. Compensation may be payable where developers carry out projects on LIL or LISA which adversely affect wildlife, fish, habitat or harvesting activities of the Inuit (see Chapter 14).
Chapter 17 of the Agreement sets out exhaustively the legislative authority and self-government rights of the Inuit. The Agreement requires the establishment of an Inuit Constitution which is to operate as ‘the fundamental law of Inuit to the extent that it is consistent with the Agreement’. The Constitution is to provide for the establishment of two levels of government – the Nunatsiavut Government and five Community Governments. The Constitution also provides for the creation of Community Corporations to represent the interests of Inuit residing outside the LISA. The legislative power of the Nunatsiavut Government extends to the making of laws for Inuit residents in the areas of education, health and social services. It also has jurisdiction over language and cultural affairs, and the management of Inuit rights and benefits under the Agreement. A justice system may also be established. All levels of government will be democratically elected and financially accountable to the electorate. Inuit and non-Inuit residents in Inuit Communities will have the right to vote for and serve as councillors in Inuit Community Governments.
Capital Transfer, Financing Arrangements and Taxation
Chapter 19 sets out the provisions for capital transfer by Canada to the Labrador Inuit of 140 million dollars (Canadian) in accordance with a 15 year payment schedule. Inuit are also to repay their negotiation loans over a similar period. The Labrador Inuit will continue to pay tax in accordance with federal and provincial taxation legislation. The Nunatsiavut and Community Governments will however, be able to make laws for direct taxation of Inuit for Government purposes (see Chapter 20).
Dispute Resolution, Ratification and Implementation
The Agreement makes provision for a dispute resolution process to be established to address disagreements regarding interpretation of the Agreement. Ratification of the Agreement must take place by approval of a majority of eligible Inuit voters, and subsequently by approval of the federal and provincial cabinets (see Chapter 22). The Agreement requires the establishment of an Implementation Plan to set out the activities, responsibilities and costs of the parties, as well as time frames for the implementation of the Agreement (see Chapter 23).