Aboriginal groups agree on formula to split resource royalties

N.W.T. aboriginal groups have agreed on a formula that will divide their share of resource revenues among them after devolution.

Groups to share up to 25 per cent of royalties going to N.W.T. after devolution

N.W.T. aboriginal groups have agreed on a formula that will divide their share of resource revenues among them after devolution.

After devolution, aboriginal groups will receive up to a quarter of the territory's portion of resource royalties. It's anticipated that their share for the coming year will be about $15 million.

The five groups that have signed on to the deal came up with the formula:

  • 30 per cent of the money will be divided up based on the average cost of living in each aboriginal group's region
  • the remaining 70 per cent will be distributed based on population.

This means the more members a group has, or the more remote the region they live in, the bigger the share of royalties they will receive.

For the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, that will amount to approximately $3 to $3.5 million a year. 

"I'm reluctant to throw out figures. Resource revenues are fairly volatile, you all of a sudden have one mine come off and those revenues will be greatly decreased," says Bob Simpson, who negotiated the revenue sharing agreement for the Inuvialuit.

He says the Inuvialuit may partner with the territory or the federal government to try to improve conditions in the communities with the new revenues. 

"There's the possibility of dedicating some of the money to enhancing programs or improving program and services, because education levels are low, health indicators aren't great. There's some ideas we've been formulating," he says.

Groups will receive four payments a year.

The territory will start collecting resource revenues April 1 but it's expected most royalties won't come in until late 2015 or early 2016.

The five groups also agreed to form an Intergovernment Council. It will allow aboriginal groups to discuss how lands and resources should be managed with the territory. 

"We're hoping I suppose that we're no longer in a subordinate role as aboriginal organizations. And that you have really meaningful participation in making decisions," says Simpson. 

With files from CBC's Elizabeth McMillan