2005 Tłı̨chǫ Self Government Agreement

The Tłı̨chǫ Agreement – which came into effect August 4, 2005 – is the Northwest Territories’ first combined land claim and self-government agreement. It was on this day that the Tłı̨chǫ Government took power and held its inaugural assembly in Behchokǫ̀. It was a momentous day not only for the Tłı̨chǫ (Dogrib) Dene but also for all the people of the north. Through a process that had taken almost thirty years the 3000 Tłı̨chǫ living in the Northwest Territories’ communities of Behchokǫ̀, Whatì, Gamètì, and Wekweètì (see map) took a huge step towards self-governance and self-reliance.

Through the Tłı̨chǫ Government, residents of the area gained control of 39,000 square kilometres of land between Great Slave and Great Bear lakes in the central Northwest Territories [map]. This is the largest single block of First Nations owned land in Canada, comparable in size to some of the smaller European countries such as the Netherlands (33,935 km²), Switzerland (41,296 km²), or Denmark (43,098 km²).

The Tłı̨chǫ Agreement also gave the Tłı̨chǫ Government jurisdiction over programs and services once controlled by the Government of the Northwest Territories. These include social assistance and housing, child and family services, and education. This new government – considered a ‘public’ government in that it represents both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people residing on Tłı̨chǫ lands – also has the power to create its own justice system with powers up to, but excluding, criminal matters.

This new regional government is funded through an annual payment from the Federal Government and through the ability to raise revenue through fees, royalties and taxation. The land claim cash settlement of $152 million, paid over 15 years, will form the base for a Tłı̨chǫ Heritage Fund.

The future for the Tłı̨chǫ Dene looks bright. They now have the means to protect and promote their heritage, culture, language and way-of-life. They can make their own laws, participate in the protection of their environment and, exercise control over the development of their natural resources.

The complete Tłı̨chǫ Agreement can be viewed at www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1292948193972/1292948598544.