on exchange of experience with establishment and management of traditional territories of indigenous peoples in Canada and the Russian Federation
On 18-19 November 2002, a Russian-Canadian seminar on exchange of experience with establishment and management of traditional territories of indigenous peoples in Canada and Russia was held in Moscow. Representatives of various Russian and Canadian state authorities, foundations and scientific institutions attended. Among the participants were the Canadian Ambassador, Rodney Irvin, the Grand Chief of the Dene Nation, Billy Erasmus, and Stephen Mills of the Gwich’in Council International, the Canadian Executive Director of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, Cindy Dickson, the representative of the International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs, Kathrin Wessendorf, and the presidents of regional indigenous peoples’ organisations of the Russian North, representatives of the Russian Government and its legislative bodies.
The important outcome was the decision to start negotiations between indigenous peoples and governmental authorities of the Russian Federation on the establishment of Territories of Traditional Nature Use, and to develop approaches to determine methods and procedures for the formation of such territories.
Moscow, 18-19 November 2002
We, the participants of the Russian-Canadian seminar, representatives of indigenous peoples’ organisations of the Russian North and Canada, executive and legislative bodies of all northern administrative units of the Russian Federation, international funding institutions, foundations and scientific institutions,
- discussing and analysing questions concerning the establishment of Territories of Traditional Nature Use and their management in Canada and in the Russian Federation in agreement with legislation, with land policies regarding theses territories and their self-administration, with form, character, methods of establishment and reconsideration of our attitude towards the earth,
- note that the contemporary situation concerning regulations in the regions and the protection of Russia’s indigenous peoples’ right on traditional nature use requires quick actions and solution of the present problems.
Being the first joint event of the Arctic Athabaskan Council and the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), looking for the realisation of the Memorandum on mutual understanding between the two associations, signed on 31 March 2001 in Moscow, this seminar is the first step on the way to carry out joint actions of the indigenous peoples of Russia and Canada in the fields of establishment and management of traditional territories and joint utilisation of international technical aid which may encourage the successful realisation of the Federal Law “On Territories of Traditional Nature Use of the Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation”, passed in May 2001.
At the same time there is in Russia so far no practical experience concerning the formation of Territories of Traditional Nature Use (TTNU) for indigenous peoples in accordance with the new law because of the lack of unified methods and procedures of such formations. Moreover, passing this law requires the acceptance of subordinate normative notes which presently are established by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation. These efforts take significant time. In the meantime, the present condition of the systems of traditional nature use, residence, environment and traditional activities of Russia’s indigenous peoples, and also the danger of cultural disintegration, require urgent measures for the protection of Northern indigenous peoples’ traditional nature use, their natural environment and the sustainable development of the entire Arctic region of our planet.
We, the participants of the seminar, express particular interest in utilising the Canadian experience regarding the establishment and management of indigenous peoples’ traditional territories and their natural resources. In Canada, self-administration agreements and land-use acts have been concluded – and are based on the Constitution – even in the absence of a concrete list of indigenous peoples’ rights fixed in the federal legislation. This model of establishing new relations between indigenous peoples and governments is of great relevance for the Russian situation.
The similarities in political construction (federalism), natural and climatic conditions (predomination of Northern territories), particularity of cultures with Northern, indigenous, and traditional nature use, point at the possibility of adapting the Canadian models of formation of TTNUs under the conditions of the Russian Federation. These models demonstrate the differential approach to various conditions of cultural-economic development of Northern indigenous peoples, which is particularly important under the conditions of the Russian Federation, where significant portions of the Northern territories are inhabited by indigenous ethnic groups with varying cultural features.
Each of the basic Canadian agreements – the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the Alberta Metis Settlement, the Yukon Land Claim Umbrella Final Agreement, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, etc. – illustrates various methods of establishing socio-political links between indigenous peoples and the appropriate Canadian territories and provinces, and Canadian society as a whole. At the same time, individual elements of Russian experience with work on communities and lands of traditional nature use, as well as the development of federal laws in the fields of indigenous peoples’ rights, may be of definite interest for Canada, where land claim agreements are presently discussed.
Based on the material presented in reports and discussions the following statement is proclaimed:
1. To approve initiatives of indigenous peoples’ organisations – in particular, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and other international organisations – aiming at initiating a dialogue on establishment and management of indigenous TTNUs on a voluntary basis, and on the formation of juridical precedents in this question with respect to involvement of all concerned parties.
2. To circulate to the Government of the Russian Federation, legislative and executive bodies of the authorities of the Northern territories of the Russian Federation, and other parties interested in supporting this initiative with respect to establishment and management of indigenous TTNUs.
3. To propose to the associations of indigenous peoples of the North
4. To recommend to the Governments of Canada and the Russian Federation and international donors to make the allocations assented to at the seminar on model territories for pilot projects on establishment and management of TTNUs.