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Labrador Inuit land-claims deal reaches final stage with Commons bill

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    June 6, 2005 - 17:41 Labrador Inuit land-claims deal reaches final stage with Commons bill
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2005
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      June 6, 2005 - 17:41

      Labrador Inuit land-claims deal reaches final stage with Commons bill


      OTTAWA (CP) - A major land-claims agreement that would give Inuit control of a big chunk of northern Labrador is a step closer to becoming law.

      The federal government introduced the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act on Monday, which would enact a deal signed between Ottawa and the Labrador Inuit Association in January. The pact was the culmination of 30 years of negotiation, and the Commons bill marks the final step to it becoming reality.

      The agreement sets out details of land ownership, resource sharing and self-government.

      It establishes a Labrador Inuit Settlement Area of about 72,500 square kilometres. The Inuit will own 15,800 square kilometres of land outright and will have limited resource and management rights in the rest.

      The settlement area includes an Ocean Zone of 48,690 square kilometres and 9,600 square kilometres for the creation of Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve.

      The deal also calls on the government to pay the Inuit $140 million, plus another $156 million to implement the agreement.

      Indian Affairs Minister Andy Scott hailed the pact as the "first modern-day treaty negotiated in Atlantic Canada."

      He said it will open up opportunities for the region and ensure Inuit play a key role in decision-making.

      William Andersen, president of the Labrador Inuit Association, said the deal "closes the circle of Inuit negotiations."

      "Labrador Inuit look forward now to shaping our own destiny and participating in the business of building this country."

      The land-claims agreement was ratified by 76 per cent of Inuit voters in May 2004.

      The Newfoundland and Labrador legislature passed the agreement in December.

      The pact was reached despite protests from Metis in the region. The Labrador Metis Nation says the agreement could extinguish the rights of 6,000 people of Inuit ancestry outside the region.

      The Labrador Metis Nation land claim, covering all but the northernmost regions of Labrador, has been rejected by the federal government. The rights of non-status aboriginals in Canada have not been clearly established by legislation or the courts.

      Unlike some aboriginal groups, Canada's Inuit did not sign treaties with the Crown.

      Beginning in the 1970's, Inuit across northern Canada have laid claim to the lands and resources of their traditional territories.

      The 5,000-member Labrador Inuit Association is the last Inuit group in Canada to negotiate a land-claims settlement.

      The Nunavik Inuit of northern Quebec were the first, settling their claim in 1975 ahead of a massive Hydro-Quebec development in the region.

      In 1984, the Inuvialuit of the Northwest Territories signed a deal with the federal government.

      But by far the largest land-claims agreement in Canadian history was signed in 1993 between Ottawa and the Inuit Tapirisat, then still part of the Northwest Territories.

      The deal saw the creation of Nunavut six years later, a territory four times the size of France where Inuit comprise 85 per cent of the population of 28,000.

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