Copyright © 2019 Senator Dennis Patterson.

Statement – Clyde River Ruling

Senator Patterson says Supreme Court Decision on Clyde River relevant to current devolution negotiations


OTTAWA, ON – On July 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the National Energy Board did not adequately consult with Inuit on the subject of oil and gas exploration and the potential effects on Inuit rights.

“This ruling reiterates what the Inuit have said for years – as a coastal people, they should have a say in projects that occur in their offshore waters and target the rich resources there as their traditions, food sources, and livelihoods are all inextricably linked to the marine areas in question,” said Senator Dennis Patterson, Senator for Nunavut.

“I hope that this ruling will help ensure that Nunavut is given control of our offshore as devolution negotiations continue.”

Senator Patterson was heartened to hear Jerry Natanine, former mayor and current community leader for Clyde River during his July 26 press conference reiterated that Inuit are still open to discussing the project, as long as scientific proof of the effects of seismic testing are presented to the community in order for them to make an informed decision, and proper compensation is offered for wildlife that is disturbed.

“In Nunavut, there is a co-management regime established in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in which Nunavummiut are given a voice when deciding what projects proceed in the territory.  As the lawyer for Clyde River, Mr. Nader Hassan, stated, Inuit are not ‘anti-development’.  True reconciliation means giving Inuit the option to choose development if that is what they want to do.”

The recent Supreme Court decision reinforces the purpose of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA), which the Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated plain language version describes as, “[recognizing] the contributions of Inuit to Canada’s history, identity and sovereignty in the Arctic.”  The NLCA also “for certainty and clarity of rights to ownership and use of lands and resources and of rights for Inuit to participate in decision-making concerning the use, management and conservation of land, water and resources, including the offshore.”

These points were echoed by Farrah Khan, arctic campaigner for Greenpeace who stated during the July 26 press conference that her organization “unequivocally supports the right of Indigenous people to decide” what to do on their lands and “on their terms”.


  • NTI’s Plain Language version of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement

  • Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act

  • Mayer Report on Nunavut Devolution (June, 2007)