A unique accord has been signed aimed at giving Northern residents greater influence over offshore oil and gas projects in the Western Arctic.
The Western Arctic–Tariuq (Offshore) Accord was inked yesterday. It’s the first of its kind to include an Indigenous government as a full participant. The accord was signed by Duane Ningaqsiq Smith, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) Chair and CEO; Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs; Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories; and Ranj Pillai, Premier of Yukon. It establishes a framework that prioritizes collaboration, responsible clean energy development, and Indigenous rights.
The accord empowers the Inuvialuit people, the residents of Yukon and the Northwest Territories, as the primary beneficiaries of economic activity stemming from any oil and gas development within their regions. The accord, once integrated into legislation, will create an oil and gas co-management and revenue-sharing arrangement.
A key part of this accord is acknowledging the essential roles that Indigenous and territorial governments have in leading on climate issues and promoting cleaner, renewable energy sources. The agreement sets a model for upcoming similar partnerships.
“Inuvialuit have long been sidelined from participation in the management of offshore oil and gas exploration and development in the Western Arctic. Today, this comes to an end. Under this Accord, Inuvialuit are now equal partners in decision-making about resource development in the offshore areas of our homeland,” said Smith.
Vandal emphasized the need for Indigenous and Northern voices in resource management decisions and economic reconciliation: “Indigenous Peoples and Northerners must have a voice in deciding how resource development should be permitted and managed where they live. This historic Accord provides for full partnership in decision-making, which is essential as we all move forward with economic reconciliation.”
The accord not only fulfills longstanding commitments by the Federal Government on lands and resources devolution but also represents a “historical” moment in offshore oil and gas co-management in Canada. Budget 2022 has allocated $2.5 million over five years to support the IRC’s participation in the implementation and administration of the accord.