Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning to the honourable members of the committee.
My name is Kevin McKay. I am the chairperson of Nisga'a Lisims Government. We are the government of the Nisga'a Nation, and we hail from beautiful northwestern British Columbia. I bring you greetings.
With me today representing the Nisga'a Nation are my colleagues: the chief executive officer of Nisga'a Lisims Government, Mr. Fred Tolmie; and our general counsel, Mr. Jim Aldridge. Also with me representing the Land Claims Agreements Coalition this morning is Grand Chief Ruth Massie from the Yukon, David Kunuk from NTI, and Alastair Campbell, who is also with NTI.
First of all, Mr. Chair, and to the members of the committee, I want to express our appreciation for the request to make a submission before the committee as the Land Claims Agreements Coalition. Unfortunately, in terms of logistics, we were not able to meet the timelines with respect to submitting copies of our written presentation for your reference. However, with that in mind, the presentation today will hopefully give you more insight into what the Land Claims Agreements Coalition represents. More specifically, Mr. Chair, we would like to address some of the issues that we deal with on an ongoing basis in implementing our respective land claims agreements and self-government agreements in our communities, in particular the way in which it pertains to the subject matter the committee is presently studying. That would be in the areas of land use and sustainable economic development.
First of all, I will give you a bit of background information on the Land Claims Agreements Coalition. We were formed in 2003 as a direct result of a national conference in 2003 entitled “Redefining Relationships”. It became very evident in that conference that all of the aboriginal and Inuit groups that had achieved either modern land claims agreements or self-government agreements were dealing on a regular basis with the challenges around implementing our respective land claims agreements. We've been together since 2003. We continue to have the common objective of pursuing a national policy on the effective and efficient implementation of our respective modern land claims agreements.
You will all recall, Mr. Chair, and through you, the committee, that in 1973 the landmark decision known as the Calder case had opened the door for modern land claims negotiations and subsequent modern land claims agreements in Canada. As a result of Calder, the first modern land claim agreement in Canada was reached in northern Quebec with the Cree in 1975. Since then, some 24 modern land claims agreements have been reached across Canada. For your information, Mr. Chair, all of the governments and aboriginal and Inuit groups that have achieved modern land claims agreements since 1975 in Canada are members of the Land Claims Agreements Coalition.
There are two co-chairs of the coalition, and it's been that way ever since we formed in 2003. The Land Claims Agreements Coalition is comprised of either first nations or Inuit. As a result of that, a decision was taken in 2003 that the co-chairs would represent the Inuit groups and the first nations groups. By way of further information, the co-chairs back then were—and continue to be at the present time—the Nisga'a Nation, representing the first nations groups in the coalition, and NTI, representing the Inuit groups. We remain as co-chairs.
The combined land mass and resources that are represented by the Land Claims Agreement Coalition represent approximately half of the land mass in Canada. I think that's a really significant point in terms of what the modern land claims agreements afford each of us in our respective situations to work with, in cooperation with Canada and, depending on our situation, either the provincial or the territorial governments, which are also parties to each of these respective agreements.
At this time, Mr. Chair, I invite my colleague, Mr. Kunuk, to provide further information. I am sensitive to the time issue here, and I want to give him an opportunity. Then hopefully during the exchange in questions and answers, we can bring up specific examples to help the committee better understand what we want to leave with you today.