Inuvialuit Land Claim
On June 5, 1984, the Committee for the Original Peoples’ Entitlement (COPE), representing 2,500 Inuvialuit of the Mackenzie Delta and adjacent Arctic Coast, became the first Indigenous group in the Northwest Territories to settle a comprehensive land claim. The Western Arctic Claims Settlement Act of 1984 gave the final Parliament of Canada approval to this settlement.
The goals of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) are “to preserve Inuvialuit cultural identity and values within a changing northern society; to enable Inuvialuit to be equal and meaningful participants in the northern and national economy and society; and to protect and preserve the Arctic wildlife, environment and biological productivity.”
The Inuvialuit negotiated legal title to more than 90,000 square kilometres of their traditional lands (almost twice the size of the province of Nova Scotia), including subsurface rights to oil, gas and minerals to nearly 13,000 square kilometres. Most of the selected land is located along the east of the Mackenzie Delta between Inuvik and Paulatuk, on the southwest side of Banks Island and the western coast of Victoria Island.
Management of the terms and cash payments from the Inuvialuit Final Agreement became the responsibility of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC). Its mandate is “to continually improve the economic, social and cultural well-being of the Inuvialuit through the implementation of the IFA and by all other available means.” Inuvialuit beneficiaries control the IRC through the election of directors to the Inuvialuit Community Corporations in Aklavik, Inuvik, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk, and Ulukhaktok. These community corporation directors then elect the Chair/Chief Executive Officer of IRC and serve on the Corporation’s Board of Directors.
Through its corporate, administrative, development, and cultural subsidiaries (Inuvialuit Development Corporation, Inuvialuit Investment Corporation, Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation, Inuvialuit Land Corporation, Inuvialuit Land Administration, Community Development Division and Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre), the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation continues to be a northern land claims success story.