Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle for the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells
On January 16, 2019, the Norman Wells Land Corporation, the Government of Canada, and the Government of the Northwest Territories celebrated the signing of the Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle for the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells (AIP).
The AIP is based upon:
- the Self-Government Framework Agreement signed by representatives of the Norman Wells Land Corporation, the Government of Canada and the Government of Northwest Territories in June 2007;
- the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (SDMCLCA) signed in September 1993; and
- the Government of Canada’s Inherent Right of Self-Government Policy (1995).
On August 21, 2018, negotiators for all three parties initialled the AIP, a necessary step before official signing.
The AIP will serve as the basis for the negotiation of the Final Self-Government Agreement for the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells (FSGA). The FSGA will fulfill the commitment made in the SDMCLCA to negotiate a self-government agreement with the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells. The FSGA will not change the rights and benefits the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells have under the SDMCLCA.
Negotiating a Final Self-Government Agreement
The AIP is a robust, non-legally binding document that will guide the subject matters for discussion in FSGA negotiations.
As part of FSGA negotiations, parties will negotiate other important agreements and plans, including:
- An Implementation Plan, which will guide how self-government for the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells will be implemented.
- A Financing Agreement, which will detail how the Tłegǫ́hłı̨ Got’ı̨nę Government will be funded.
- A Tax Treatment Agreement, which will specify the tax rules that will apply to the Tłegǫ́hłı̨ Got’ı̨nę Government.
When the FSGA comes into force, the Tłegǫ́hłı̨ Got’ı̨nę Government, established by the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells, will be recognized as a government within the constitutional framework of Canada with jurisdictions and authorities as set out in the FSGA. The Tłegǫ́hłı̨ Got’ı̨nę Government will exercise some of those new powers and responsibilities right away; others will be taken on and exercised when it chooses to do so.
Those jurisdictions and authorities include:
- Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells Citizenship;
- Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells language;
- culture and spirituality;
- traditional healing;
- income support;
- social housing;
- solemnization of marriage;
- settlement lands;
- gaming and gambling;
- administration of justice;
- taxation of Citizens; and
- local services (under the inclusive Aboriginal public government).
Negotiation over jurisdictions related to child and family services, guardianship and trusteeship, and wills and estates will take place after the FGSA has been in effect for 10 years.
Once approved, the FSGA will:
- be the agreement by which the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells will exercise their right to self-government;
- be protected as a treaty under the Canadian Constitution, which means it cannot be changed by any one government; and
- give the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells more control over the decisions that affect their day-to-day lives, including how programs and services are delivered in the Norman Wells Administrative Area.
The laws of general application and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will continue to apply.
The FSGA will describe how the Tłegǫ́hłı̨ Got’ı̨nę Government, the Government of Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada will continue to work together after self-government is in place. Self-government is the start of a renewed relationship among governments that will evolve over time.
Establishing the Norman Wells Administrative Area
The Sahtu Dene and Metis of Tulita are also in the process of negotiating their own self-government agreement. Since the communities of Norman Wells and Tulita are both within the Tulita/Norman Wells District of the Sahtu Settlement Area, they have jointly established an “Administrative Line” solely for the purposes of demarcating the geographic reach of their respective self-government’s jurisdiction and delivery of social programs and services.
The Administrative Line will separate the Tulita/Norman Wells District into two distinctive administrative areas; one for each of the self-governments.
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