Nunavut Land Claims Agreement

The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) is an agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement area and her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. In 1990, the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut and representatives of the federal and territorial governments signed a land claims agreement-in-principle. This document would establish the boundaries between the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. In 1993, the NLCA was signed and adopted by the Canadian Parliament and received Royal Assent. The NLCA is the largest land claim agreement in Canadian history and covers 1/5 of Canada’s land mass.

Article 5 - Wildlife

Within the NLCA, Article 5 establishes the guiding principles, objectives and conservation principles of Wildlife within the Nunavut settlement area. The Government of Canada and Inuit recognize that there is a need for an effective role for Inuit in all aspects of wildlife management” (NLCA, 1993, p.28).

There are two objectives:

  1. The creation of a wildlife management system; and
  2. The creation of a system of harvesting rights, priorities and privileges.

There are four principles of conservation:

  1. The maintenance of the natural balance of ecological systems within the Nunavut Settlement Area;
  2. The protection of wildlife habitat;
  3. The maintenance of vital, healthy, wildlife populations capable of sustaining harvesting needs; and,
  4. The restoration and revitalization of depleted populations of wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Article 5 also establishes the following guiding principles related to wildlife management in Nunavut:

  1. Inuit are traditional and current users of wildlife;
  2. The legal rights of Inuit to harvest wildlife flow from their traditional and current use;
  3. The Inuit population is steadily increasing;
  4. A long-term healthy, renewable resource economy is both viable and desirable;
  5. There is a need for an effective system of wildlife management that complements Inuit harvesting rights and priorities, and recognizes Inuit systems of wildlife management that contribute to the conservation of wildlife and protection of wildlife habitat;
  6. There is a need for systems of wildlife management and land management that provide optimum protection to the renewable resource economy;
  7. The wildlife management system and the exercise of Inuit harvesting rights are governed by and subject to the principles of conservation;
  8. There is a need for an effective role for Inuit in all aspects of wildlife management, including research; and
  9. Government retains the ultimate responsibility for wildlife management.

Read the full text of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

The Nunavut Wildlife Act

The Nunavut Wildlife Act reflects the values and principles of Inuit and takes into account Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ), or Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Because of this, the act is especially relevant to Nunavummiut. The Inuit right to harvest and access to land for harvesting is protected within the act. Unlike other parts of Canada, Inuit do not need a license or beneficiary card to harvest wildlife. The act also sets out to protect and permit the designation of endangered or threatened species and the provision of special management areas.

The Nunavut Wildlife Act can be found on the Department of Justice website.