Trudeau to sign Nunavut devolution agreement Thursday in Iqaluit

By Jeff Pelletier
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Nunatsiaq News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit Iqaluit Thursday to sign a Nunavut devolution agreement with Premier P.J. Akeeagok and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk.

The signing ceremony will take place in the afternoon, according to Trudeau’s public itinerary released by his office Wednesday. That will be followed by a news conference and a community celebration in the evening.

Devolution is the transferring of authority over federal lands, or Crown lands, from the federal government to the Government of Nunavut.

All other provinces and territories already have devolution agreements with the federal government.

Akeeagok has frequently spoken about devolution since he became premier in 2021.

“That’s something I’ve mentioned every bilateral meeting I’ve had with the prime minister, and I will continue to advocate for,” Akeeagok said in a 2023 interview.

“There’s mineral riches that are on Crown land and they would allow us to be able to build the economies that we see as a territory, and really, that’s the next chapter in our territory’s history that I’m very much looking forward to seeing concluded.”

The GN, federal government and NTI have engaged in devolution talks since 2014.

Those discussions stalled in late 2015 when Trudeau’s Liberals ousted Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in the federal election.

In 2019, the federal government and Nunavut signed a devolution agreement in principle outlining a five-year path to reach a final agreement.

“By devolving federal responsibilities, Nunavummiut will have the ability and the means to manage their decisions on how our public lands, freshwater and non-renewable resources are used and developed within Nunavut,” then-premier Joe Savikataaq said at the time.

Thursday’s visit will be Trudeau’s first to the Nunavut capital since a 2021 federal election campaign stop. His most recent trip to the territory was in 2022 when he visited Cambridge Bay with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.