Nunavut Lands

Management of Inuit-Owned Lands in Nunavut

David Mablick, Director of Land Management, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.

Representing an integral component of a complex set of rights and benefits which Inuit have obtained under the Nunavut Final Agreement, the establishment of Inuit-Owned Lands in Nunavut is meant to provide Inuit with rights in land that promote self-suffi ciency in a manner consistent with Inuit social and cultural needs and aspirations.

It is necessary therefore, to plan and coordinate the management of these lands with other components of the agreement in order to maximize the benefits of holding title to nearly 356,000 square KM (38,000 square KM including title to the subsurface). T he Regional Inuit Associations (RIA's) of the Kitikmeot, Keewatin and Baffin areas were designated as the organizations that would hold surface title to these lands and subsurface title was vested in Nunavut Tungavvik Inc. (NTI); all lands to be held in t rust by NTI and the RIA's on behalf of and for the benefit in the Inuit of Nunavut.

Ultimately, the aim of Inuit Land Management is to properly administer these lands in a manner that will provide self-reliance and social well-being.

In order to benefit Inuit now and into the future, it is important too, that these lands are managed in a way that sustains and enhances their value, all the while involving the active participation of Inuit in decision-making.

Understanding that comunity objectives might differ and that the selection of lands could reflect competing interests and preferences (e.g., conservation and wildlife harvesting versus mineral development), management must be open, democratic and accounta ble. As each of the RIA's and NTI are title holders, regional interests and concerns must be balanced by a broader concensus regarding everyone's role in achieving the objectives of the Final Agreement.

Community Participation

Community participation is the cornerstone of the land management regime and is to be accomplished through Community Lands and Resources Committees (CLARCS), made up of residents representing the beneficiaries of each community.

These committees will participate in land use planning, collect information for community areas of interest and convey information and local concerns to their associations and NTI; receive and review land use applications informing community members of la nd use proposals as necessary; recommend land use decisions including any attached conditions to approved applications; and help to monitor land use.

The active participation of CLARCS, effective land use planning and community consultation, will combine to determine how land use development proceeds throughout Nunavut.

Additionally, a system coordinating Land Management of surface lands in the three regions with the management of subsurface holdings iby NTI requires the integration and cooperation of all title holders. Similarly, land management must be coordinated with the Institutions of Public Government and co-management bodies created under the Agreement and with relevant government departments and agencies.

The Land Policy Advisory Committee (LPAC), whose primary mandate is to advise NTI and the RIA's on land and resource management policy and to help maintain consistency in policy application was established to assist in the coordination between the various title holders. This committee includes the First Vice President of NTI and the Vice Presidents of each RIA.

Liason between government, its institutions and other co-management bodies will faciliate co-ordination between these bodies and the Regional Inuit Associations and the Nunavut Planning Commission to ensure comprehensiveness and compatability of land use planning throughout Nunavut.

Further assistance will be provided through the creation of core information systems. As indicated in the rules, NTI will be responsible for housing this system, which would include maps, geological information and a database for all relevant land relate d information including a central Geographic Information System (GIS). Once established, GIS terminals will be placed in RIA offices.

Rules and Procedures

While land use planning and decisions regarding the development of Inuit Owned Lands (IOLs),. must be decentralized in order to effectively represent local interests, it is recognized that a common, coordinated set of rules and procedures are needed to go vern the disposition of Inuit interests at a local level and to provide third parties with a degree of consistency.

These rules are binding on NTI and the RIA's and, upon incorporation into every permit, lease, concession agreement, etc., will also become binding upon the third parties to whom such rights are issued.

These rules and procedures are closely modelled on the existing regime in the NWT. This will promote an orderly transfer of authority over IOLs from government to Inuit and will assist the process of coordinating the management of lands and resources gene rally throughout Nunavut, as well as meet the unique obligations and intent of the Nunavut Final Agreeement.

Incorporating the best aspects of comparable land management, while at the same time developing a system that is responsive to Inuit culture and other needs, is an ongoing process which has just begun to unfold.