Government of Canada
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Canada's Northern Strategy

Improving and Devolving Northern Governance

The Government shares a common goal with Northerners – that Northerners have greater control over their economic and political destinies. Through ongoing devolution and self-government negotiations, Canada continues to work with all partners to create practical, innovative and efficient governance models in the North.


Devolution is the transfer of province-like responsibilities from the federal government to the territories. Over the last few decades, Northern governments have taken on greater responsibility for many aspects of their region's affairs including education, health care and social services. One exception was control over lands and resource management, which was retained by the federal government.

In April 2003, Yukon became the first territory to conclude a devolution agreement on lands and resource management. The Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement was signed on June 25, 2013 and parties are working toward an effective date of April 2014. In Nunavut, a protocol for future negotiations has been signed between Canada, the territorial Government and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and work between the parties on devolution is ongoing.

Land Claims and Self-government

Today, 11 of 14 Yukon First Nations have signed self-government agreements and settled claims.

Most of the Northwest Territories is covered by Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements that give Aboriginal people authority to manage their lands and resources.

The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement led to the creation of Canada's newest territory in 1999, providing Inuit of the Eastern Arctic with some 1.9 million square kilometers – roughly one-fifth of Canada – in the largest Aboriginal land claim settlement in Canadian history.

Similar progress has been made on agreements with Inuit living in Labrador and in the Nunavik region of Northern Quebec. The Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, the first modern-day treaty of its kind in Atlantic Canada, provides Inuit in Labrador with defined rights in and to territory in northern Labrador. And the Inuit of Nunavik Agreement in Principle, signed in August 2007, will see the creation of a new form of public regional government adapted to the needs of the people of Nunavik. The Nunavik Inuit Land Claim Agreement received Royal Assent in February 2008.