Tony Penikett and Adam Goldenberg have recently published a fascinating article in the Michigan State International Law Review, entitled “Closing the Citizenship Gap in Canada’s North: Indigenous Rights, Arctic Sovereignty, and Devolution in Nunavut”. In this article, Penikett and Goldenberg argue that the devolution of control over lands and resources in Nunavut from Ottawa to Iqaluit isn’t merely a matter for Canada’s discretion, as the federal government seems to have it. Instead, it’s a matter of the rights of the Inuit of Nunavut as citizens of Canada, and as indigenous peoples entitled to political self-determination in both domestic and international law.
To my knowledge, Penikett and Goldenberg have offered the first sustained argument that Canada’s failure to give the Government of Nunavut control over territorial Crown lands amounts to an infrigement of the civil — even the human — rights of Inuit there. This argument depends on understanding the Government of Nunavut as a de facto Inuit government, despite the fact that it’s de jure a public government representing all Nunavummiut, whether Inuit or non-Inuit. It also depends on understanding the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement as having settled the question of Inuit rights in Nunavut only in part.
Penikett and Goldenberg marshall some strong considerations in favour of these interpretations. I’m also pleased to say that they cite my article, “Nunavut, Greenland and the politics of resource revenues” as the starting point for any exploration of the economic implications of devolution for Nunavut.
Read Penikett and Goldenberg’s full article on the website of the Michigan State University College of Law.