Comprehensive Land Claims in Northern Canada

Comprehensive Land Claims (CLCAs) are Canadian modern treaties between the aboriginal groups claiming land, the government of Canada and the territories or provinces in question. For a very long time, the aboriginal rights and claims to land have been disregarded and not dealt with by agreements or laws, and thus, these CLCAs are meant to deal with them (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009). So far, 21 agreements have been implemented and ratified and covering a land mass of roughly 40%, of Canada. These treaties have involved more than 90 communities with 70,000 members from aborigine descent (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009).

This essay seeks to determine the significance of these CLCAs. These CLCAs are regarded as complex and are mainly focused on transfer of land and cash settlement. They also play a part in dealing with the responsibilities and roles each signatory party is supposed to play. Some have misconceived the significance of these comprehensive land claims, which are not meant to bring to an end the relationship between the aboriginal claiming groups and the government but are just designed to alter it (Fraser, 2007).

The CLCAs are supposed to access the aboriginal land that currently exists; recognize their rights to resources, traditional harvesting, self governance and financial compensation. Some claims deal with grievances expressed by first nations in relation to the obligations of Indian act or treaty. For example, Nunavut agreement is a comprehensive claim settlement that was signed in the year 1999 and which came up with a new territory. However, the policies related to these land claims stipulate that the aboriginal rights should be done away with in order to be given the rights in the settlement.

This means that they would be giving away their rights provided in the post –confederation treaties. Another thing is that the government can reach a settlement only to facilitate a project that is aimed at economical development (Koukkanen, nd). These treaties signify that it is possible for governments to reach to an agreement with indigenous people. They also show the importance of the role the community usually plays when it comes to their participation and their understanding of aboriginal land claims resolution (Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, 2005).

Moreover, the treaties prove that it is easy for the government to agree with indigenous people from remote areas than from the urban areas. The financial package that the aboriginal received signified the political will and economic urgency while reflecting time, place and legal requirements of the nation. A new relationship framework was also established in regards to social, economic and political aspects while at the same time ending a dispute that had been there for long.

The treaties are mainly understood as evolutionary but not revolutionary (Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, 2005). The settlement of these CLCAs calls for negotiations and implementations of modern treaties and the moment a settlement is made, it acts as a foundation of subsequent agreements on self governance. This is because the settlement would call for ownership transfer of huge tracts of land and also the recognition of the rights that the aboriginals have to own land (Young, 1998). Moreover, the settlements will be characterized by payment of huge sums of money to these communities.

After the settlement, most of those claimants will benefit since, they will have the right to participate in the management of resources which may include water, assets that are either subsurface or offshore, and wildlife. In addition, they can also share resources or revenue. It is also believed that if settlement of these claims takes place, the government would be saved from litigation that comes about as a result of legal ambiguities in relation to the aboriginal rights (Young, 1998). The first settlement of the comprehensive land claim took place in the year 1975 and the latest was 1997.

These comprehensive land claims, the settled and the unsettled ones, cover a geographical area that include most of the territorial land, British Columbia and smaller areas of Quebec. By the end of July1997, settlement of 12 claims had already taken place affecting 48,000 people of aborigine descent. These people were given full ownership of land estimated to have been 500,000 km2 and a package of US $1. 8 billion. It was expected that all the comprehensive land claims would cost $262 million between the years 1998 and 1999 respectively (Young, 1998).

The comprehensive land claims policies aims at creating an environment that will be conducive for development of resources and creating opportunities for economic development while at the same time ensuring that the rights of the aborigines are well protected. Thus these comprehensive land claims clarify the issue of land ownership and make it certain, including access to other resources. This was intended to be so since it would really help in eliminating risks that come about as a result of legal challenges, thus facilitating investment (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009).

Furthermore, these comprehensive claims are significant in improving the relationship between the government and the aborigines. The federal government has always longed to have a good working relationship with the aboriginal people and thus, these claims were meant to facilitate that. In addition, they were designed to clarify and create an environment that would nurture good working relationship between aboriginal group and developers from outside their settlements, who intend to invest in their areas (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009).

Moreover, some of the claims that have been settled have provisions that would be helpful to the aboriginal people since it would give them a voice when it comes to decision making in relation to land and resources. This has been really significant and has been achieved through the establishment of management bodies that deal with land and resources. Another significance of these claims is that through their policy, they recognize the importance of the cultural and social development of the aboriginal people and thus, the agreements encourage their well being (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009).

The comprehensive land claims have been significant in making the aboriginal people self sufficient economically, enabling them to fully participate in the economic development of northern Canada. Thus, these CLCAs have been instrumental in creating good environment that would favor economic development. The agreements have created new regimes that would regulate the business environment which would need companies to make consultations with the political leadership of the aboriginal people and the community at large in order to make arrangement or negotiate the way forward for development (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009).

This will ensure that the people themselves benefit directly from the settlement area’s development. The new management bodies such as Renewable Resource Councils and Hunters And Trappers Association have come up with the claims settlements which actively involve the people from the settlement areas in all the decision-making process that relate to the use of the resources such as land, protection of the environment and management of fisheries and wildlife. All these did not exist before the comprehensive land claims (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009).

Research shows that those aboriginal communities that have already entered into land claims agreement enjoy more benefits economically than those who have not or have not concluded them. The cash settlements they receive from these agreements have propelled many economically. The agreements have significantly helped in securing the benefits the community would enjoy from the development of mining in their territories (Someone, 2008) The CLCAs have been significant in making the aboriginals establish their autonomy over land. Through the claim agreements, their influence over land has been enhanced.

For example, the new territory that was created by Nunavut agreement made this a reality. For many, the land claims agreements was a way of decolonizing the northern part of Canada and thus, these claims can be said to have been very significant in shaping the landscape of the North politically (Simeone,2008). Significance of Economic Development Corporations Since the lands claim agreements are usually aimed at business development, they have significantly helped in the establishment of Development Corporation in every settlement area; for example, regions of Naskapi, Inuvialuit and Gwich’in.

These corporations were designed to initiate investments. They have been significant in coming up with business that would enhance the participation of the locals, provision of jobs, training the people for jobs and also benefit the community economically. An example of these corporations include the Inuvialuit Development Corporation (IDC) which received a grant of $10 million that would be instrumental in starting activities aimed at economic development of the region (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009).

In Sahtu region, there are three district land corporations that are involved in allocating resources and investing in large scale projects. They have also been significant in the development of very successful companies which provide employment opportunities to the local communities. Another development corporation is the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation which assists the locals by providing them with career development programs, education and training.

It has also played a part in identifying the labor needs of the area and coming up with training programs. They have also been involved in assisting the locals by giving them financial aid for post secondary education. Other corporations that have similar arrangements include the one in Gwichi’in district, Local Corporation in Sahtu, Naskapi Development Corporation and the Naskapi Nation. All these have played significant roles in the economic development of the aboriginal people and their settlement areas (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2009).

Conclusion In conclusion, the comprehensive land claims, modern treaties in Canada, have been very significant in the lives of the aboriginals, their economic, social and political development. They have also been instrumental in enhancing the relationship between the aboriginals and the federal government as well as the settlement of the natives among others. The economical development corporations have also played a major role in the development of the settlement areas and the community at large. References Fraser, S.

(2007). Opening statement to the standing committee on aboriginal people: Report of the general auditor of Canada. Retrieved from http://www. oag-bvg. gc. ca/internet/English/oss_20071211_e_27977. html Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. (2009). Impact evaluation of comprehensive land claims agreements. Retrieved from http://www. ainc-inac. gc. ca/ai/arp/aev/pubs/ev/clca/clca-eng. asp Koukkanen, R. (2002). Indigenous people land rights and land claims. The Journal of Federalism, 32 (3): 89-114 Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.

Summary report of social and economic impacts of aboriginal land claims settlements: Case study analysis. Retrieved from http://www. gov. bc. ca/arr/reports/arasumm. html Someone, T. (2008). The Arctic: Northern Aboriginal people. Retrieved from http://www2. parl. gc. ca/Content/LOP/ResearchPublications/prb0810- e. htm#northerneconomy Young, D. et al. (1998). Report of the auditor general of Canada: Chapter 14-Indian and Northern affairs Canada. Retrieved from http://www. oag- bvg. gc. ca/internet/English/parl_oag_199809_14_e_9320. html#0. 2. 2Z141Z1. WAMWY8. BZY4ZE. Z4