The Eeyou Marine Region Land Claims Agreement
The Eeyou Marine Region Impact Review Board is an Institution of Public Government established under the Eeyou Marine Region Land Claims Agreement (EMRLCA). The Agreement was signed by the Governments of Canada and Nunavut, and by the Grand Council of the Crees on behalf of the Crees of Eeyou Istchee. It was signed on July 7, 2010 and came into effect on February 15, 2012. The EMRLCA is a treaty recognized under the Constitution Act, 1982.
The EMRLCA is a comprehensive land claims agreement that sets out the respective rights of Canada and the Cree in regard to the Eeyou Marine Region (EMR). The EMR is a remarkable expanse of land located in eastern James Bay and southeastern Hudson Bay. It covers approximately 61,270 square kilometers and affects the lives of 17,146 Cree that live on the mainland in northern Quebec.
To effectively manage land use, hunting, fishing, trapping, and development in the EMR, the Crees and the Government of Canada established three Institutions of Public Government:
- the Eeyou Marine Region Planning Commission (EMRPC) - Chapter 8 of the EMRLCA
- the Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board (EMRWB) - Chapter 13 of the EMRLCA
- the Eeyou Marine Region Impact Review Board (EMRIRB) - Chapter 18 of the EMRLCA
The main purposes of the Agreement include provisions for the following:
- Cree ownership of most of the islands in Eastern James Bay and Southern Hudson Bay from Long Island going South
- Joint ownership by the Cree and Inuit of Nunavik of most of the islands from Long Island North to Umiujaq
- Ownership of subsurface mineral rights of the above islands
- Cree share of royalty payments made to government flowing from natural resources extracted from the seabed
- Compensation paid over nine years to the Cree Nation Government
- Cree harvesting regime for the offshore region
- Cree participation in the EMR Wildlife Board, EMR Impact Review Board, and EMR Planning Commission
- Cree participation in development projects through Impact and Benefit Agreements
- Safeguard of Cree Aboriginal rights, including right of self-government not affecting lands or resources in Nunavut and in the area comprising Hudson Bay and James Bay
- Protected areas, land use planning, government employments and contracts, archaeology, and ethnographic resources
As set out in Chapter 18 of the Agreement, the EMRIRB has the primary responsibility to assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of proposed development projects within the EMR.