Land and resource management overview

The territory of Nunavut was created on April 1, 1999, through the Nunavut Agreement (NA). It occupies more than one fifth of Canada's landmass, and contains more than two thirds of Canada's shoreline. Land in Nunavut is classified as either Crown land, Commissioner's land, or Inuit Owned Land (IOL). IOL can include surface rights only or both surface and subsurface rights.

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Crown lands

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) administers Crown land through the federal Territorial Lands Act (TLA), which provides for the disposition, use and protection of territorial lands. The TLA and its regulations govern the administration and disposition of mineral rights, and access to those rights.

The Territorial Land Use Regulations regulate surface activities related to mineral exploration and mining. The Nunavut Mining Regulations regulate subsurface mineral exploration.

Other regulations made under the TLA include:

For more information on working on Crown lands, you can contact:

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Nunavut Regional Office

Lands Directorate

Land Administration Specialist
Phone: (867) 975-4283
Fax: (867) 975-4286
Email: landsmining@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

Inuit Owned Lands (IOL)

The NA delegates the responsibility of land and resource management on IOL to Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI). NTI has further delegated some of those responsibilities for surface management to the Regional Inuit Associations (RIAs):

NTI manages subsurface mineral resources on IOL through exploration agreements and/or mineral production leases with companies. The RIAs manage IOL surface rights in accordance with NTI's by-laws, policies and procedures, and negotiate Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreements with project proponents prior to the start of mining activities. These agreements often set out frameworks for financial compensation for project impacts on traditional practices or lands, Inuit training programs and employment targets and/or royalty agreements, and must be signed by the proponent and the RIA before operations at a mine may commence.

For more information on working on IOL, contact the RIA for your region of interest:

Kitikmeot Inuit Association
30 Mitik Street
P.O. Box 18
Cambridge Bay, NU
X0B 0C0
Phone: (867) 983-2458 - ext.254
Fax: (867) 983-2701
Email: reception@kitia.ca

Kivalliq Inuit Association
P.O. Box 340
Rankin Inlet, NU X0C 0G0
Phone: (867) 645-2800
Fax: (867) 645-2348

Qikiqtani Inuit Association
P.O. Box 219
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Phone: (867) 979-5391
Fax: (867) 979-3238
Toll free: 1-800-667-2742
Email: info@qia.ca

Commissioner's and Municipal lands

The Commissioner's Land Act (CLA) governs access to and disposition of surface rights on Commissioner's lands and untitled municipal lands. Article 14 of the Nunavut Agreement identifies the responsibilities of the Department of Community and Government Services of the Government of Nunavut in managing untitled municipal lands.

With the exception of IOL, Crown lands, privately owned lands, and mines and minerals, lands within a municipal boundary are administered by the Commissioner for the use and benefit of the municipality. This administration is limited to land tenure administration, such as issuing leases, permits and licences, subject to municipal consent. The Cities, Towns and Villages Act and Hamlets Act provide municipalities with jurisdiction over lands within municipal boundaries through by-laws.

Lands within 100 feet of the high-water mark of seacoast shorelines, navigable rivers or navigable lakes are considered Crown lands, and are managed as untitled municipal lands. Subsurface rights on Commissioner's lands and those on untitled municipal lands are administered by CIRNAC.

Institutions of Public Government (IPGs)

Five IPGs were created through the Nunavut Agreement.

Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC)

NPC is the 'single window' for access to the regulatory process in Nunavut. It is responsible for developing and administering land use plans that set out where different land uses may occur in the Nunavut Settlement Area, based on environmental, socioeconomic and cultural needs. As a proponent, you initiate the regulatory process by submitting your project proposal to NPC, which will issue a conformity decision on your proposal.

Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB)

NIRB is responsible for the assessment of ecosystemic and socioeconomic impacts of projects in the Nunavut Settlement Area, and for the monitoring of approved projects, under Article 12 of the NA. This article sets out the impact assessment process for Nunavut, which is established in legislation by the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act. NIRB screens each project proposal provided to it by NPC, and provides a recommendation on whether it should or should not proceed to the responsible federal Minister(s).

Nunavut Water Board (NWB)

NWB authorizes water usage and waste deposit into water on Crown lands and IOL in the territory. NWB may issue you a water licence after its review of your project proposal and licence application has taken place. During this review process, intervenors and stakeholders will have the opportunity to review the proposal and provide comments. Once the review is complete, NWB provides its recommendation for approval of the water licence and its conditions, or its rejection, to the responsible federal Minister(s).

Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal (NSRT)

NSRT mediates disputes between parties regarding land access, wildlife compensation, and rights to carving stone or other specified substances.

Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB)

NWMB oversees wildlife and habitat management in a co-management system, based on principles of conservation, sustainability, and ecosystemic integrity. Among other activities, it may approve plans for wildlife management and protection.

Fresh water management

Under Article 13 of the NA and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, NWB is responsible for issuing licences allowing the use of water and the deposit of waste into water. CIRNAC participates as an intervenor in the licensing process and in enforcement of the terms and conditions of NWB water licences.

During its review process, NWB may identify additional legislation and regulations governing waters that may be applicable to your project.

Impact assessment

CIRNAC is an intervenor in impact assessment processes in Nunavut. The department is responsible for providing advice to NIRB about ecosystemic and socio-economic effects of projects proposed for development within Nunavut, and across jurisdictional boundaries.

For further information on the IPGs with a role in resource management and impact assessment, contact:

Nunavut Planning Commission
P.O. Box 12
Taloyoak, NU X0B 1B0
Phone: (867) 561-6896
Fax: (867) 561-6897

Nunavut Impact Review Board
29 Mitik Street
P.O. Box 1360
Cambridge Bay, NU X0B 0C0
Toll free: 1-866-233-3033
Fax: 1-867-983-2594
Email: info@nirb.ca

Nunavut Water Board
P.O. Box 119
Gjoa Haven, NU X0B 1J0
Phone: (867) 360-6338
Toll free: 1-855-521-3745

Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal
P.O. Box 2169
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Phone: (250) 465-2667

Nunavut Wildlife Management Board
P.O. Box 1379
Iqaluit, Nunavut
X0A 0H0
Phone: (867) 975-7300
Fax: 1-888-421-9832
Email: receptionist@nwmb.com

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