Q. What is the Tłįchǫ Agreement?
The Tłįchǫ Agreement was negotiated by the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the Government of Canada. It is the first combined comprehensive land claim and self-government agreement in the Northwest Territories. The Agreement provides certain rights and benefits to land, resources and self-government to Tłįchǫ Citizens, as well as a tax-free payment. In addition, any mineral royalties received by the government annually from the Mackenzie Valley will be shared with the Tłįchǫ.
Q. Over what geographic area will the Tłįchǫ Agreement apply?
The Tłįchǫ Agreement applies to four geographic areas. The largest such area is Monwhi Gogha De Niitlee, which is the traditional use are of the Tłįchǫ. In this area, the Tłįchǫ will be able to exercise most of the rights set out in the Agreement and all four of the Tłįchǫ communities fall within this area. The second area is a resource management area, called “Wek’eezhii” which falls within Mowhi Gogha De Niitlee. It is bordered by land claims settlement areas and traditional areas of neighboring Aboriginal groups. The third geographic area also falls within Mowhi Gogha De Niitleee, and is called “Tłįchǫ Lands”. These are the lands that the Tłįchǫ will own in fee simple. The fourth geographic area is “Ezodziti”, an area of historical and cultural importance to the Tłįchǫ. The Tłįchǫ do not own this land, nor do they have any additional harvesting or management rights here. However the area has been protected in the interest of preserving its historical and cultural importance to the Tłįchǫ people. Please refer to the Maps section for further information.
Q. What rights and benefits related to land, resources and self-government will the Tłįchǫ receive under the Tłįchǫ Agreement?
The Tłįchǫ will receive approximately 39,000 square kilometers of land in a single block surrounding the four Tłįchǫ communities of Behchokõ (Rea-Edzo), Whatí (Lac La Martre), Gaméti (Rae Lakes) and Wekweétí (Snare Lake). This area of land is approximately have the size of New Brunswick of slight smaller than the area of Switzerland. On their lands, the Tłįchǫ will own both the surface and mineral (subsurface) resources. In addition to Tłįchǫ lands, the Tłįchǫ will receive approximately $100 million paid over 14 years and a share of the resource royalties from development in the Mackenzie Valley. Under the Agreement’s self-government provisions, a Tłįchǫ Government will be able to make laws over a wide range of areas, primarily over Tłįchǫ lands and Tłįchǫ Citizens, and will be actively involved in resource management in Wekeezhii.
Q. In general terms, how will the Tłįchǫ benefit from the Tłįchǫ Agreement?
Through the Tłįchǫ Agreement, the Tłįchǫ will gain additional tools and resources to strengthen their economy, and a greater ability to protect and promote Tłįchǫ culture, language, heritage, lands and resources. It is expected that the Tłįchǫ Agreement will create a climate that will encourage economic investment and partnerships. The Agreement also paves the way for new jobs and educational opportunities. Under the Agreement’s self-government provisions, the Tłįchǫ will acquire new governance arrangements and powers. They will be able to make decisions in many subject areas directly related to the well being of Tłįchǫ communities and culture. The Tłįchǫ Agreement states that the Tłįchǫ Government will be responsible for matters related to their membership, culture, language and communities. The Tłįchǫ Government will also be able to design and manage programs through agreements with territorial and federal governments that respect and promote Tłįchǫ way of life. The Agreement also guarantees Tłįchǫ representation in new Tłįchǫ community public governments to ensure their interests and culture are reflected.
Q. What benefits to the region and to the Northwest Territories in genera, are expected as a result of the Tłįchǫ Agreement?
The Tłįchǫ Agreement provides greater certainty and clarity about ownership and management of land and resources. By providing certainty, the Agreement will create a much more predictable decision-making environment with the potential to attract investment and economic growth. The Agreement will also provide the Tłįchǫ with the opportunity to enhance their participation in the economy of the region and the territory as a whole, and to become more self-reliant. For example, through the land, resources and financial benefits they receive from the Agreement, the Tłįchǫ will be in a better position to undertake new business ventures or partnerships with industry. Other residents may also benefit from the Tłįchǫ Agreement (e.g., as new economic development initiatives get underway, jobs and other opportunities will likely be created.)
Q. What are some of the unique characteristics of the Tłįchǫ Agreement?
The Tłįchǫ Agreement is the first combined land claim and self-government agreement in the territories. Another unique feature is that the Tłįchǫ will own a single block of land including sub-surface minerals. As well, Tłįchǫ lands will surround or be adjacent to community lands. In other land claim settlements, land were selected in a checkerboard fashion and dotted throughout the settlement area. The access provisions are also unique since any person, who is not engaged in commercial activity, may have access to Tłįchǫ lands and the waters overlying those lands, subject to Tłįchǫ laws. Finally, the Tłįchǫ Agreement applies a new approach to achieving certainty with respect to the use and ownership of land and resources, and to the jurisdictional rights provided in the Tłįchǫ Agreement. While the Tłįchǫ have agreed that they will not exercise any land rights outside of the Tłįchǫ Agreement, the non-assertion approach to certainty provides that the Tłįchǫ may approach the government should they find that they are entitled to a non-land right, such as a self-government right, that is not mentioned in the Agreement. Government and the Tłįchǫ may negotiate for the exercise of this right. If Government refuses to accept that the right exists, the parties may turn to the court to determine the Tłįchǫ’s entitlement and to add this right to the Tłįchǫ Agreement.
Q. What is a “Tłįchǫ Citizen”
Eligible Tłįchǫ people who are interested in becoming beneficiaries of the Tłįchǫ Agreement need to apply to be listed on the Tłįchǫ Citizens register. A “Tłįchǫ Citizen” is a beneficiary to the Tłįchǫ Agreement, whose name in on the Tłįchǫ Citizens Register, and is defined in the Agreement to be a person who is:
- A “Tłįchǫ person” or meets the conditions of the “community acceptance” process set out in the Tłįchǫ constitution;
- A Canadian citizen, or a permanent resident of Canada, or is Tłįchǫ and as a result of adoption became a citizen of a country other than Canada;
- Is not enrolled under a different land claims agreement.
Q. What subjects are contained in the Tłįchǫ Agreement?
The Tłįchǫ Agreement contains 27 chapters that include the following topics, among others:
- Tłįchǫ Government
- Tłįchǫ Community Lands
- Tłįchǫ Lands
- Access to Tłįchǫ Lands
- Wildlife Harvesting Rights
- Wildlife Harvesting Management
- Land and Water Regulations
- Mineral Royalties
- Protected Areas
- Heritage Resources
- Economic Measures
Q. How have the governments change in the Tłįchǫ communities?
Tłįchǫ community public governments, with guaranteed Tłįchǫ representation have replaced the Hamlets and Chartered Communities. In the example of Wekweétí and Gaméti where there were no public governments prior to effective date, the Tłįchǫ Community Public Governments have been established. Tłįchǫ Community Governments have a Chief and councilors elected by its Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents. They have law-making powers over areas that are municipal or local in nature. The four bands, Dogrib Rae Band, Whatí First Nation, Gaméti First Nation and Dechi Laot’i First Nations and the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council, ceased to exist on August 4, 2005 and have been succeeded by the Tłįchǫ Government. The new Tłįchǫ Government will manage rights and benefits on behalf of the Tłįchǫ citizens and make decisions for the Tłįchǫ as a whole. The Chief and two councilors from each community public government will be part of the Tłįchǫ government.
Q. How will residents of the Tłįchǫ communities who are not Tłįchǫ citizens be represented?
The new restructures public governments in the Tłįchǫ communities will serve and represent all residents. In each of the community governments, all eligible voters will have opportunities to vote, to monimate candidates and to run for office. The only limitation is that only Tłįchǫ citizens can be elected as Chief. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will apply to all governments established under the Tłįchǫ Agreement, and all governments will be accountable to the people they represent.
Q. How will land, water and resources be managed in the area covered by the Tłįchǫ Agreement?
The Wek’eezhii Renewable Resource Board will oversee the management of wildlife and habitat and make recommendations about wildlife, forest and plant resources and commercial activities. The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board will continue to be involved in issuing water licenses and land use permits in the Valley and its new regional panel, the Wek’eeshii Land and Water Board will be involved in issuing licenses and permits in Wek’eezhii.
Q. How will programs and services be delivered in Tłįchǫ communities?
For the first ten years after the Tłįchǫ Agreement in in effect, an Intergovernmental Services Agreement among the Tłįchǫ, the GNWT and the Government of Canada would provide for the administration and delivery of key programs and services in each of the four Tłįchǫ communities, Programs and services will be delivered in a way that respects Tłįchǫ heritage and culture.