Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 121

121 Arctic Yearbook 2015 in what is sometimes referred to as nested federalism (Wilson 2008a). In the case of Aboriginal land claim settlements in Canada, power is dispersed between public institutions and Indigenous institutions. In fact, two parallel processes are at play, (1) territorial devolution and (2) Aboriginal land claims and self-government agreements. In Canada, the Northwest Territories initially encompassed all of Rupert’s Land—the territories purchased from the Hudson’s Bay Company—and were considered to be underdeveloped and underpopulated regions that could gain provincial status if settled by enough European immigrants (Coates 1985). Until then, the federal government would directly administer these territories. The entire southern section of the Northwest Territories eventually gained provincial status (Manitoba in 1870, Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905) but the Arctic regions remained too sparsely populated by Europeans to acquire provincial status. Political devolution started in the 1970s with the creation of the first representative governments in Yukon and the Northwest Territories. This devolution gave both territories powers similar to those of the provinces, with the exception of jurisdiction over land and resources, which remained in federal hands. Moreover, unlike the provinces, which have constitutionally protected powers, the territories have only delegated powers, are overseen by a federal commissioner who has to approve all territorial bills, and their legislation can be revoked by the Canadian Parliament within 45 days of enactment. It should be said that to date the Canadian parliament has never used these powers and that convention has established that the federal commissioner should accept all advice from the territorial assembly in territorial matters. A parallel trend toward self-government has also been ongoing among Aboriginal people throughout Canada, although it has gone the farthest in Arctic Canada. This process stems from the recognition of Aboriginal rights by the Canadian Supreme Court. To honour these rights, the federal government has put into place a land claims policy (Canada 1987) and a self-government policy (INAC 1995) and has negotiated land claims and self-government agreements in Arctic Canada. These governments form a new level of government that is based on constitutionally protected treaties while not being part of the constitutional order (Rodon 2014), although, in the case of Nunavut, self-government was implemented through the creation of a third territorial government. The land claims agreements create another level of governance through multiple co-management boards, which mostly have recommending power but have decision-making power in some cases. The resulting governance arrangements may be complex. In the Northwest Territories, for example, major land claims have already been settled with respect to four nations: the Inuvialuit in 1984, the Gwich’in in 1992, the Sahtu in 1993, and the Tlicho in 2005. Such arrangements created a number of boards that make recommendations on such things as natural resource management and environmental and social assessment of resource development—a clear example of a vertical multilevel governance framework with dispersion of power among local and regional Aboriginal institutions. Resource development in Canada’s territories Land and resource management have remained under federal jurisdiction, but there is a clear trend toward devolution of these responsibilities to the territories. The first step was the Canada Yukon Oil and Gas Accord signed in 1999, which gave Yukon legislative control over oil and gas resources, Rodon & Therrien