Mr. Speaker, a fundamental part of our success as a government, and the future prosperity of our territory, depends on a productive and collaborative partnership with Indigenous governments. We must foster constructive and respective relationships with our Indigenous leaders and, to seek ways to advance reconciliation, recognize and affirm Indigenous rights and support expanded program and service delivery.
It gives me great pleasure to update Members of the 19th Legislative Assembly on the Intergovernmental Council's recent adoption of the legislative development protocol for lands and resources legislation. In 2014, the Government of the Northwest Territories committed to working collaboratively with our devolution partners to review and develop any proposed changes, including legislative changes, to our land and resource management systems. The Northwest Territories Intergovernmental Agreement on Lands and Resource Management is an important part of this commitment, and our work through the Intergovernmental Council shows how we can work together while also recognizing the rights, jurisdiction, and authority of each individual council member.
Mr. Speaker, the legislative development protocol was adopted by the Intergovernmental Council on December 2, 2020, and provides for the collaborative development of lands and resource legislation. Consistent with the Northwest Territories Intergovernmental Agreement on Lands and Resources Management, the protocol respects the jurisdictions and authorities of Indigenous governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories and preserves the important role of the elected leaders while also providing a mechanism for collaboration and consensus-building. The protocol is the first agreement of its kind in Canada and supports the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by respecting, consulting, and collaborating with Indigenous governments on land and resource management.
The Intergovernmental Council's shared commitment to work together has been a hallmark of the GNWT approach to the devolution of land and resource management in 2014. The protocol is a step toward realizing the mutual promises we made with our devolution partners. The protocol also supports this governments ongoing efforts to collaborate with Indigenous governments to meet mandate priorities, including the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The protocol has already attracted positive attention from other parts of Canada and reinforces this government's reputation as a nationwide leader in this area.
Make no mistake, there will be times when unanimous agreement cannot be reached at the Intergovernmental Council. The protocol recognizes that unanimous support is not required and decisions that balance different interests will still be required as the Government of the Northwest Territories' legislation is developed. Further, to help promote harmonization and collaboration, the protocol provides a mechanism for notification of Indigenous governments' own legislation regarding lands and resources.
I would like to express my gratitude to my colleagues on the Intergovernmental Council for their commitment and collaborative spirit and congratulate them all by recognizing each member and their officials for this historic undertaking. The members of the Intergovernmental Council, along with the Government of the Northwest Territories, include:
- Acho Dene Koe First Nation;
- Deninu Kue First Nation;
- Gwich'in Tribal Council;
- Inuvialuit Regional Corporation;
- K'atlodeeche First Nation;
- Northwest Territory Metis Nation;
- Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated;
- Salt River First Nation; and
- the Tlicho Government.
The promise of devolution included a commitment to work collaboratively as governments on the management of lands and resources in the Northwest Territories. The members of the Intergovernmental Council are delivering on this promise.
The protocol will result in stronger and more effective land and resource management legislation. It will also better position the GNWT to collaborate on any new legislative authority it obtains through ongoing discussions to bring elements of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act home to the Northwest Territories.
For Indigenous governments that are not yet members of the Intergovernmental Council, we will continue to consult and engage, to ensure that they also have an opportunity to provide input on the development of lands and resources legislation. I will also continue to invite Indigenous governments not yet partners in devolution to join and work directly through the Intergovernmental Council.
Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working together with the Intergovernmental Council to make decisions for the responsible and sustainable management of lands, waters, and natural resources of the Northwest Territories for the benefit of current and future generations. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.