The Northwest Territories is a land of breathtaking beauty, untold resources and exciting opportunity created by people of diverse and unique cultures, and differing origins, all of who contribute to its vibrancy and colour. Our environment is one of the last unspoiled wildernesses on earth, our waters run clean and clear and the space and freedom we enjoy can only be envied.
Increasingly, Canada is recognizing that the North will play a major role in this country’s economic future and eyes are turning in our direction. Based in large part on the region’s rich reserve of natural resources, the Conference Board of Canada has predicted that the North’s GDP could double by 2020.
The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is committed to turning Northern potential into prosperity for its residents and all Canadians. With a substantial resource base that is still largely undeveloped, the Northwest Territories has the potential to create new economic opportunities and contribute meaningfully to the wealth of its residents and all Canadians for generations to come.
We are the third largest diamond producer in the world and have the largest reserves of rare earth metals outside of China. We have gold, silver, cobalt, bismuth, lead, copper and zinc, much of it yet to be mined. Six of Canada’s top 100 mining exploration and development appraisal projects of 2013 are in the NWT.
We have world class oil and gas reserves spanning the whole length of our territory, from the Beaufort Sea in the north through the Sahtu to the Cameron hills in the south. We have estimated hydroelectric potential of 11,500 megawatts – more power than BC Hydro currently generates – that’s clean renewable power that could help fuel economic development and lower the cost of living for our residents.
The devolution of responsibility for public lands, resources and waters from the Government of Canada to the GNWT on April 1, 2014 marked the beginning of a new chapter for the people of our territory. A priority of the people and Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories for decades, devolution of public lands and resources makes Northerners responsible for decisions that were previously made in Ottawa.
Devolution also marks a new era in our relationship with the Aboriginal governments of the Northwest Territories. Already committed to ongoing government-to-government relations in the spirit of respect, recognition and responsibility, devolution provides the GNWT and its Aboriginal government partners – the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, NWT Métis Nation, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, Gwich’in Tribal Council, Tlicho Government, Acho Dene Koe First Nation and Fort Liard Métis Local #67, Deninu K’ue First Nation and the Salt River First Nation – new opportunities for working more closely together. Through increased partnership and cooperation the GNWT and its devolution partners, as well as the Dehcho First Nations and Akaitcho Territory Government, are committed to creating a more prosperous, healthy territory for all our people.
Northerners know this land and its resources best and want to enjoy the benefits of responsible balanced development. Letting the people who live here and who stand to benefit make the decisions is one of the best ways to meet this goal. With new powers and new resources flowing from devolution we will be better placed than ever to support the long term economic growth and health of the territory. It also means that our government has the tools it needs to better manage the environment, ensuring that development decisions reflect northern priorities and values.
Northerners recognize that land is life, that it sustains and nourishes us spiritually, culturally, physically, economically and socially. Working together, Northerners will responsibly and sustainably manage the lands, waters and natural resources of the Northwest Territories for the benefit of current and future generations, based on our years of work and collaboration with Aboriginal governments and stakeholders in land use and conservation and reflecting the special relationship that we have always had with the land and the environment.
Responsible development of natural resources will continue to be a mainstay of the NWT economy for many years to come. Supporting development that creates benefits and opportunities for Northerners while respecting our environment and reflecting Northern values and priorities will continue to be a focus for our government as we implement our new responsibilities.
The NWT has a promising future entrenched in a traditional past. We have taken the lessons of our ancestors and put them to work in a modern world. Diamonds, oil and gas, tourism, clean energy; they are just some of the boundless opportunities Northerners are investing in today.
The land and its resources are our common heritage and must be managed to the benefit of all residents of our territory. Our government is committed to making the right decisions today to ensure a healthy and prosperous tomorrow for future generations.
Premier Bob McLeod