Negotiations are currently underway in all regions of the Northwest Territories. There are four general kinds of negotiations that take place in the Northwest Territories, all of which can be negotiated at the regional or community level.
- Land and Resources agreements are often called "land claims". They describe specific Aboriginal and treaty rights in relation to land and resources.
- Self-government agreements are intended to implement the Aboriginal party’s inherent right to self-government. As such, self-government agreements describe the structure of each Aboriginal government, at the community and regional levels, and describe the powers and responsibilities of the self-government.
- Combined Land, Resources and Self-Government agreements combine land claim and self-government into a single agreement, which describe specific Aboriginal and treaty rights in relation to land, resources and self-government. In addition to bringing clarity to Aboriginal ownership of land and resources, these agreements define the jurisdictions, authorities and responsibilities of Aboriginal governments.
- Transboundary agreements are agreements between the GNWT, Canada and an Aboriginal party from another province or territory whose traditional territory includes some of the NWT. These negotiations generally focus on the Aboriginal party’s harvesting rights in the NWT.
The Negotiation Process engages a series of phases that unfold within a process that includes both the negotiation and the implementation of Final Agreements and is customized to meet the diverse needs and circumstances of the Aboriginal parties, regions and communities involved.
- Exploratory Discussions: Identify if there is sufficient interest and common ground to begin negotiations. Exploratory discussions lead to negotiations that result in a Framework Agreement or a Process and Schedule Agreement.
- Framework Agreement/Process and Schedule Agreement: Sets out the subject matter for negotiation and describes how negotiations will proceed.
- Agreement-in-Principle: A detailed document addressing most matters described in the Framework Agreement. It forms the basis for the Final Agreement. Agreements-in-Principle are approved and signed by the parties to the negotiations.
- Final Agreement: Addresses all the matters described in the Framework Agreement and creates a legally binding agreement, which is typically a treaty under the meaning of Section 35 of the Constitution Act,1982. The Final Agreement includes an Implementation Plan and financial arrangements that describe how the Final Agreement will be implemented. Final Agreements are ratified by the parties to the negotiations. Ratification normally includes a vote by the members of the Aboriginal party and the enactment of settlement legislation by Canada and the GNWT prior to ratifying a Final Agreement.
Once negotiations are complete, the parties continue to work together to implement the agreement.