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Inuvialuit Set to Take Next Steps to Clarify Rights, Benefits and Resource Management in the Offshore Areas of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) welcomes today’s commitment from Northern Affairs Minister, Dominic Leblanc and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi, to work with Inuvialuit rights holders as well as the territories on next steps for future offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic.

“The Beaufort Sea comprises a significant portion of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement,” said IRC Chair and CEO, Duane Smith. “Clarifying the rights, the appropriate distribution of benefits and management of resources in our offshore area will be the essential first step to fulfilling Minister Leblanc and Sohi’s commitment."

The December 2016 United States-Canada Joint Arctic Leaders’ Statement and the resulting halt in development caused frustration and uncertainty for Northern residents and industry alike. It also created a drag on the already stumbling Northern economy. “There was a total lack of consultation prior to the imposition of the moratorium. This and the subsequent changes to key legislation impacting our marine areas are actions inconsistent with the way the Crown is required to engage with its Indigenous counterparts,” noted Smith.

At the time of the announcement, Inuvialuit had been working with Canada on several initiatives to support sustainability-based planning for the Beaufort Sea and Arctic Ocean. This included a Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment dedicated to producing a baseline of scientific data for the Beaufort Sea as well as the implementation of two marine protected areas.

“Since the announcement, we have been exhausting all diplomatic means of finding a way forward in partnership with Canada. We were nearly out of such options;” Smith remarked, “but, following our dialogue with Minister Leblanc, we are encouraged that Canada will now dedicate the people and resources needed to engage with IRC on an approach that respects the rights of Inuvialuit and the interests of all Canadians for generations to come.”

The IRC has a team of experts assembled and is set to immediately engage and negotiate with Canada as well the territories on the future of the Arctic offshore. IRC expects that these discussions will have as one of their principal objectives the stimulation of the regional economy for sustainable growth.

Media Contact: Kate Darling, General Counsel, kdarling@inuvialuit.com, 867-620-0025