Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 74

74 Arctic Yearbook 2015 Unlike the United States, Canada did not settle northern claims in one fell swoop. Instead, Canada’s decision to introduce a policy of negotiation in 1973 clearly set the development of Arctic regionalization in motion. In comparison to Alaska’s ad hoc solution, negotiation favoured the development of clearly defined regions constrained by group identity. The structure of the policy tied collective rights to the identification of distinct groups that occupied and utilized a bounded geographic territory. Under Comprehensive Land Claims (CLCs), the Government of Canada invited Indigenous groups that had never previously signed a treaty to begin negotiating claims. This did not necessarily mean that singularly homogenous groups advanced their claims (for example, the Sahtu land claim was a combined Dene and Métis claim). However, whereas Alaska’s process set regional boundaries as the ANCSA process approached finalization, Canada’s modern land claims pushed Indigenous peoples to self-organize into most-similar groups based on region, culture, and ethnicity prior to negotiation. By virtue of this group self-identification, the conceptualization of regions in northern Canada was more deliberate. More importantly, the lengthy negotiations resulted in stronger units of regional governance than those created in Alaska. Initially (and like Alaska), the settled claims relied on the transfer of land, money, and resource revenues through the creation of regional corporations. However, these regional corporations were primarily not-for-profit organizations and Canada’s model of regionalism was embedded through the creation of regulatory boards whose borders were geographically identical to the regional land claims. These regulatory boards institutionalized Indigenous participation on regional environmental screening committees and review boards9 and have reinforced Indigenous authority over resource development (White 2002). Canada’s policy of negotiation continued to evolve throughout the next few decades as the country’s legal regime changed. Indigenous collective rights were reinforced through different venues, including through the period of constitutional negotiations in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Though the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords ultimately failed, the negotiations shaped a new path forward and significantly affected the norms regarding the place of Indigenous Cana