Canada's Statement at the 11th Session of the UNWGIP
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                              C A N A D A 

  The Permanent Mission of Canada     La Mission Permanente du Canada
       to the United Nations              aupres des Nations Unies
             at Geneva                            a Geneve

                      U N I T E D   N A T I O N S

                      ELEVENTH SESSION, JULY 1993

                              DELIVERED BY
                           GERALD E. SHANNON

                     JULY 29, 1993/29 JUILLET 1993

     Madam Chairperson, I appreciate this opportunity to make a 
statement on behalf of the government of Canada. 

     I would first like to commend you, Madam Chairperson, and the 
other members of the Working Group, for the work which you have 
performed in drawing attention of governments in the United Nations to 
indigenous issues. 

     Last week, a member of the Canadian observer delegation, in his 
address on standards and principles, referred to the negotiation 
process which Canadians favour to give life to the legal concepts which 
frame our nation. To paraphrase what he said: 

     'The challenge which we have is to design concepts (of self-
     determination) which oblige states and Indigenous people to 
     work out harmonious arrangements for sharing.' 

Today, I want to share with you what this concept can mean in practical 

     A year ago we informed you of the process in which the Prime 
Minister, premiers and representatives of the Aboriginal peoples of 
Canada, were actively engaged in a process to develop comprehensive 
proposals for constitutional change. Over _ __ month period, Aboriginal 
representatives participated in 14 meetings of ministers and First 
Ministers. The result was an agreement referred to in Canada, as the 
Charlottetown Accord. 

     The Accord was the subject of a national referendum on October 26, 
1992. Unfortunately, Canadians, including most Aboriginal Canadians, 
decided that the Accord should not proceed as the basis for 
constitutional change. The government of Canada respects that decision. 

     Nevertheless, the government of Canada remains committed to making 
progress on self-government and other Aboriginal issues within the 
existing constitutional framework. To that end, ministers continue to 
meet and work with Aboriginal representatives, provincial and 
territorial governments. 

Madam Chairperson,

     Real progress continues to be made under the Native Agenda, a 
government-wide initiative to accelerate the resolution of longstanding 
grievances of Aboriginal Canadians and to engender a new relationship. 
Canada is committed to: settling land claims; improving conditions on 
reserves; nurturing a new relationship between the government and 
Aboriginal peoples; recognizing and enhancing the role of Aboriginal 
peoples in contemporary Canadian society. The Royal Commission on 
Aboriginal Peoples, which I described in detail last year, has held 
several rounds of hearings and will be reporting in 1995. 

                              LAND CLAIMS

     Given the importance of land matters, I would like to discuss 
recent developments and overall approaches. In the past year, 
significant results have been achieved -- a total of 25 specific land 
claims have been settled, 14 treaty land entitlement claims in 
Saskatchewan have been reached and six comprehensive land claims have 
been settled with the Gwich'in, the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut, and 
four Yukon First Nations. In addition, the Sahtu in the Mackenzie 
Valley voted this month to ratify their agreement. 

     Canada's comprehensive land claims agreements are modern day 
treaties negotiated with Aboriginal groups that wish to settle claims 
based on Aboriginal rights to land. Since 1973, when the comprehensive 
land claims policy was developed, a feature of this process has been 
the stress on negotiations in achieving final agreements. The process 
involves several milestones. After a claim is accepted, the federal 
government and the Aboriginal groups enter into and conclude: 
preliminary negotiations; a framework agreement; an agreement-in-
principle; a final agreement, and an accompanying implementation plan. 
For each agreement, there must be formal approval by the Aboriginal 
group, provincial or territorial governments and the federal 
government. Then final settlement legislation must be agreed to by 
Parliament. This can be a long process, but a necessary one given the 
constitutional protection for these agreements, which ensures that all 
parties are comfortable with the settlement. 

     Processes have evolved as a result of lessons learned from earlier 
negotiations and the different situations of communities. For example, 
due to experiences with the first settlement, the James Bay and 
Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) in which different interpretations 
were placed on the agreement, an implementation plan is now a part of 
settlements to ensure common understandings of all aspects. Also, I 
would note that a new community is under construction for the Ouje-
Bougoumou Cree. 

     Some would speak ill of the Canadian predilection for negotiation 
and compromise. Yet it works because agreements result and these 
agreements are not static. For example, last January the Crees of 
Quebec signed the eleventh agreement complementary to the JBNQA, in 
which they agreed to continuation of portions of La Grande hydro 
development project in exchange for $75 million. This settlement will 
be worth $110 million by the time the last payment is made. At the time 
of signing, Grand Chief Mathew Coon-Come stated: 

     "When called upon, the Crees and Hydro-Quebec can sometimes 
     find ways to resolve practical problems. We both must 
     continue to monitor and to deal with the impacts of the La 
     Grande complex." 

Other negotiations continue while I speak.

     I would like to focus on several significant achievements in the 
area of comprehensive land claims over the past year. They indicate 
that land claim agreements can secure a brighter future and provide 
Aboriginal groups and non-Aboriginals with the means to pursue shared 
objectives, such as self-government and economic development. 


     In the province of British Columbia, there are many land claims by 
various Aboriginal groups. A major step towards resolving claims was 
taken with the creation of the British Columbia Treaty Commission. The 
Commission is a tripartite organization composed of members appointed 
by the First Nations, the provincial and the federal governments. Its 
mandate is to oversee the treaty negotiations process, and coordinate 
the start of negotiations and monitor their progress. The federal 
government expects to negotiate over 30 treaties with British Columbia 
First Nations over the next decade. 


     Last month, an historic agreement between Canada and Aboriginal 
peoples was concluded with the passage by Parliament of two acts: 

     - the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act; and 
     - the Act to Create the Territory of Nunavut. 

These two acts, which are closely linked, will redraw the map of
Canada by 1999 and will provide for a new political and economic
future for the Inuit and other residents of the eastern and
central Arctic.

     The NUNAVUT LAND CLAIMS AGREEMENT ACT recognizes title to 350,000 
square kilometres of land in the eastern Northwest Territories (an area 
larger than Finland) to the Inuit and will provide financial payment of 
more than $1 billion, over 14 years. Other benefits in the agreement 
include: wildlife harvesting rights; subsurface rights; and 
participation on wildlife and other resource management boards within 
the territory. 

     Nunavut will be a public government with a commissioner, cabinet, 
legislative assembly, public service and territorial court. In 
accordance with basic democratic principles, residents of the area, 
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, will have greater control over decisions 
affecting their daily lives and the challenges ahead. The creation of 
Nunavut is a good example of the partnership between the Inuit of the 
eastern Arctic and the government of Canada. 


     In the Yukon territory, in Canada's far north, different 
arrangements have been negotiated. An umbrella final agreement, which 
provides the framework for final land claim settlements with each of 
the 14 First Nations in Yukon, was signed by the federal and Yukon 
governments, and the Council for Yukon Indians. This agreement provides 
for a total of 41,439 square kilometres of land, more than $242 million 
in cash compensation over a period of 15 years, as well as wildlife 
harvesting rights, subsurface rights, participation on land and 
resource management bodies, and provisions for promoting and preserving 
the culture and heritage of Yukon Indians. 

     Four Yukon First Nations, the Yukon and the federal governments 
also signed individual First Nation final agreements, which incorporate 
provisions of the umbrella final agreement and address the specific 
circumstances of their First Nation. 

                            SELF GOVERNMENT

     Community self-government negotiations are continuing across 
Canada. Currently, 15 sets of negotiations involving 45 First Nations, 
are pursuing new legislative arrangements that are more responsive to 
their particular needs and aspirations. In addition, similar 
negotiations are being conducted in parallel with comprehensive land 
claim negotiations. For example, the federal and Yukon governments and 
four First Nations have ratified self-government agreements which 
provide local autonomy over decisions affecting Indian people in the 
Yukon. Each of the four First Nations will exercise law-making powers 
on settlement lands with respect to land use and control, hunting, 
trapping and fishing, licensing and the regulation of businesses. They 
will also have the power to enact laws for their citizens in the Yukon, 
not living on settlement lands, such as for language and culture, 
health, social services, education, and dispute resolution outside the 

     Canada is also engaged in discussion on the self-government 
aspirations of the Metis and other Aboriginal peoples living off a land 
base. Tripartite self-government negotiations are underway in several 
provinces, among Aboriginal organizations, the provinces and the 
federal government on a broad spectrum of topics such as housing, 
social services, economic development, education, training and justice. 

Madam Chairperson,

     There have been developments in areas such as justice, language 
and health matters but given the limited time I would give special note 
to some northern issues of particular interest. 

                            NORTHERN ISSUES

     The Arctic Environmental Strategy (AES) is a $100 million Green 
Plan program designed to address the most urgent environmental problems 
facing the Arctic. The success of this Strategy is due in part to the 
involvement of Aboriginal organizations in all aspects of program 
planning and delivery. Five national native organizations receive 
funding to support their participation, including involvement on all 
decision-making committees. They also undertake specific projects as 

     In the process leading to the creation of the Arctic Council, an 
intergovernmental organization for the Arctic region, Canada has 
pressed for the meaningful participation of international indigenous 
organizations from the north. Canada has also endeavoured to involve 
Aboriginal organizations, such as the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, 
in implementing the Canada-Russia Bilateral Cooperation Agreement. 

Madam Chairperson,

     Aboriginal people's contributions to Canada are vital ones. I am 
pleased to inform you that the first Metis Lieutenant Governor was 
appointed in the province of Manitoba -Mr. Yvon Dumont, the former 
President of the Metis National Council. The International Year of the 
World's Indigenous People is being seen in Canada as an opportunity to 
create greater understanding of the role of Aboriginal history and 
culture in Canadian society. 

     I must emphasize that the progress made in partnership with 
Aboriginal peoples over the past year offers hope for the future. 
Tangible progress has been made in Canada on issues which are important 
to Aboriginal peoples. There is however, a lot of work yet to be done. 
Governments in Canada are committed to working in partnership with 
Aboriginal peoples to address issues which are important to them and 
find ways to bring about meaningful change. 

Thank you Madam Chairperson.

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