Montreal – The Northwest Territories (NWT) is on the leading edge of political, constitutional and administrative changes that are fundamentally redefining the relationship between Indigenous people and the Canadian state, says a new study from the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
In 2014, control over lands and resources was devolved from the federal government to the Northwest Territories. Since then, significant government restructuring has taken place. A key development was the introduction of significant resource-revenue sharing through transfers to Indigenous governments. The NWT government also created the Intergovernmental Council, a forum to foster collaboration among the executives of the NWT government and participating Indigenous governments.
According to the study’s author, Jerald Sabin, the speed of change and the peaceful means through which power was shared have been striking. As he says, “Internationally, this model is unprecedented. These new institutions and practices are designed to mediate and regularize intergovernmental relations in what is becoming Canada’s first federation within a federation.”
More broadly, he concludes that this power-sharing model is a significant step toward embedding Indigenous and treaty rights in the public governance framework as well as the reconciliation of Indigenous and settler societies.
A Federation within a Federation? Devolution and Indigenous Government in the Northwest Territories, by Jerald Sabin, can be downloaded from the Institute’s website (irpp.org).
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