Cree/Inuit Offshore Overlapping Interests Area
Overlap between the Eeyou Martine Region and Nunavik Marine Region
The Overlap Agreement between the Crees of Eeyou Istchee and the Nunavik Inuit was a groundbreaking initiative, negotiated and signed in April 2003. The core objective of this agreement was to bring clarity and certainty to the overlapping interests in areas of shared use and occupation, a goal that reflects the commitment to work together.
The Cree/Inuit Offshore Overlapping Interests Area is a significant demonstration of collaborative relationship and shared governance between the Cree and Inuit peoples. This area is a testament to mutual understanding and management of overlapping interests in a region that is culturally and resourcefully rich.
This agreement has an impact on both the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement (NILCA) and the Eeyou Marine Region Land Claims Agreement (EMRLCA). It has been incorporated into the NILCA as Article 28 and into the EMRLCA as Chapter 30.
The jurisdiction and operation of the management bodies established under both the NILCA and EMRLCA are significantly influenced by this agreement. In terms of land ownership within the Overlap Area, there are lands distinctly identified as Cree owned, Inuit owned, and some that are jointly owned by both. Decision-making powers in this area are carefully allocated to respect the rights and interests of both groups:
In the Inuit Zone, the Inuit hold primary decision-making powers. When the Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission (NMRPC) and Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board (NMRIRB) are making decisions in respect to the Inuit Zone and the decision may directly affect the rights and interests of the Cree, they must ensure the effective participation and effective voice for the Cree in the Board when making such decisions.
Conversely, in the Cree Zone, the Cree have primary decision-making authority. When the Eeyou Marine Region Planning Commission (EMRPC) and Eeyou Marine Region Impact Review Board (EMRIRB) are making decisions in respect to the Cree Zone and the decision may directly affect the rights and interests of the Inuit, they must ensure the effective participation and effective voice for the Inuit in the Board when making such decisions.
Impact Assessment in the Cree/Inuit Joint Zone
In the Cree/Inuit Joint Zone, the Cree and Inuit exercise equal decision-making powers. The EMRIRB and the NMRIRB perform their responsibilities jointly and equally. In light of these provisions found in the Overlap Agreement, projects in this area undergo joint assessments. This means the EMRIRB and NMRIRB have a joint board meeting and produce a single Screening Decision Report for proposed projects. This approach ensures that management regimes related to development impact assessment are applied jointly and equally.
“Joint and equal” jurisdiction requires the boards to sit together when making their decision or performing their duties. It also requires that the Boards come to a consensus when making decisions or recommendations. Section 7.5 of the Overlap Agreement is the specific provision addressing this:
In the Joint Zone, the management regimes provided in both the Nunavik Inuit Final Agreement and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee Final Agreement, including those related to wildlife management, planning, land and water management and development impact assessment, shall apply jointly and equally. The Nunavik Inuit and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee shall have equal participation and an equal voice in the bodies or organisations designated or created under these Final Agreements for such purposes when they are making decisions or carrying out their responsibilities in the Joint zone.
This cooperative framework is an exemplary approach to managing overlapping territorial interests. It ensures that both the Cree and Inuit communities have an equal voice and participation in decisions that shape their shared future. Through this agreement, a path towards mutual respect, understanding, and sustainable management of shared resources is solidified, setting a precedent for collaborative governance worldwide.
The diagram to the right shows what a proponent can expect when a proposed project is located in the Overlap Area. There are steps which EMRIRB and NMRIRB under take separately, and there are others that are done jointly. Collaboration begins even before the impact assessment stage, with the EMR Planning Commission and the NMR Planning Commission working together to issue a Letter of Determination.