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Negotiating Aboriginal Self-Government Agreements in Canada: An Analysis of the Inuvialuit Experience

  • Christopher Alcantara (a1) and Adrienne Davidson (a2)

In 1973, the federal government of Canada invited Aboriginal groups to enter into comprehensive land claims negotiations to settle outstanding claims not addressed by historical treaties. After eight years of negotiations, the Inuvialuit became the second group in Canada to sign a modern treaty, doing so in 1984. Missing from that agreement, however, was a self-government chapter, which was not open to negotiation at that time. In 1996, the Inuvialuit initiated self-government negotiations with the Crown but have yet to conclude an agreement despite increased institutional capacity. What explains this puzzle? Drawing upon the existing literature on land claims negotiations, Aboriginal self-government and historical institutionalism, we analyze a variety of primary and secondary sources to argue that a number of institutional and non-institutional factors have prevented the Inuvialuit from successfully completing self-government negotiations with the Crown.


En 1973, le gouvernement fédéral du Canada a invité les groupes autochtones à entreprendre des négociations exhaustives en vue de régler les revendications territoriales n'ayant jamais fait l'objet de traités historiques. Après huit ans de négociations, les Inuvialuit sont devenus en 1984 le deuxième groupe d'Autochtones du Canada à signer un traité de l’époque moderne. Cette entente ne comportait toutefois aucune clause d'autonomie gouvernementale, qui ne pouvait à l’époque faire l'objet de négociation. Les Inuvialuit ont entrepris en 1996 des négociations avec la Couronne visant l'autonomie gouvernementale, mais une entente reste à être conclue malgré une capacité accrue de former des institutions. Quelle est la clef de cette énigme? À partir d'une analyse de la documentation actuelle sur les négociations en matière de revendications territoriales, sur l'autonomie gouvernementale des peuples autochtones et sur l'institutionnalisme dans l'histoire, nous avons étudié un certain nombre de sources de première et de seconde mains pour en arriver à la conclusion que certains facteurs institutionnels et non institutionnels ont empêché les Inuvialuit de réussir à négocier avec succès l'autonomie gouvernementale avec la Couronne.

Corresponding author
Department of Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Ave. Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5,
Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Sidney Smith Hall Room 3018, 100 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5S 3G3,
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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
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  • EISSN: 1744-9324
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