Withdrawal from Disposal of Certain Tracts of Territorial Lands in Nunavut (Hans Island) Order: SI/2019-24
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 153, Number 10
SI/2019-24 May 15, 2019
TERRITORIAL LANDS ACT
P.C. 2019-423 May 3, 2019
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, pursuant to paragraph 23(a) of the Territorial Lands Act footnote a, makes the annexed Withdrawal from Disposal of Certain Tracts of Territorial Lands in Nunavut (Hans Island) Order.
Withdrawal from Disposal of Certain Tracts of Territorial Lands in Nunavut (Hans Island) Order
1 The purpose of this Order is to withdraw from disposal certain tracts of territorial lands in order to facilitate the negotiation and settlement of the ongoing territorial dispute with the Kingdom of Denmark.
Lands Withdrawn from Disposal
2 The tracts of territorial lands set out in the schedule, including the surface and subsurface rights to the lands, are withdrawn from disposal for a period of five years beginning on the day on which this Order is made.
Tracts of Territorial Lands Withdrawn from Disposal (Hans Island)
Surface and Subsurface Rights to the Lands
In the Arctic Ocean, in the Nares Strait, in the Kennedy Channel; in Quad 120 B/15 as shown on the 1:50 000 scale of the National Topographic Series maps; that parcel of land, being more particularly described as follows: All of the landmass known as Hans Island, Nunavut, Canada, that lies above the mean low water mark and that contains an area of approximately 1.23 km2.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
To make an order respecting the withdrawal from disposal of certain tracts of territorial lands located in Nunavut (Hans Island), pursuant to paragraph 23(a) of the Territorial Lands Act.
The purpose of this Order in Council is to withdraw from disposal the surface and subsurface rights of certain lands (approximately 1.23 square kilometres), for a period of five years in order to facilitate the negotiation and settlement of the ongoing territorial dispute with the Kingdom of Denmark.
Hans Island is a small, uninhabited barren island in the centre of the Kennedy Channel of Nares Strait — the strait that separates Ellesmere Island from northern Greenland and connects Baffin Bay with the Lincoln Sea. Hans Island is the smallest of three islands in Kennedy Channel; the others are Franklin Island and Crozier Island. The strait at this point is 35 kilometres (22 miles) wide, placing the island within the territorial waters of both Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark (Greenland).
The nearest populated places are Alert, Canada (198 km, population 62), Siorapaluk, Greenland (349 km, population 68) and Qaanaaq, Greenland (379 km, population 656).
Canada’s sovereignty claim over Hans Island traces back to the late 1800s, but the dispute between Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark regarding sovereignty of Hans Island only came to light during the negotiations of the maritime boundary line in the early 1970s when it was determined that the Kingdom of Denmark also claimed sovereignty over the island. The boundary on either side of the island was determined by the 1973 Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark and the Government of Canada relating to the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Greenland and Canada. As such, the dispute is only about the island itself and not the surrounding seabed or waters.
In 2005, the foreign Ministers of Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark issued a joint declaration under which they committed to continuing to work to resolve the dispute, and in the meantime, to approach the island in a low-key and restrained manner.
In May 2018, Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark announced the establishment of a Joint Task Force on Boundary Issues (the Joint Task Force) to explore options and provide recommendations on how to resolve outstanding boundary issues regarding Lincoln Sea, Hans Island and the Labrador Sea continental shelf overlap.
Global Affairs Canada, which is leading the work of the Joint Task Force, has been engaging the regional Inuit organizations on the scope and activities of the negotiations between Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark on the boundary issues.
On February 4, 2019, the Department issued a prospecting permit under the Nunavut Mining Regulations for lands involving Hans Island. The prospecting permit gives the applicant the exclusive right to prospect and stake claims in a prospecting permit zone specified in the application (Hans Island). This action has had a negative impact on the ongoing discussions being undertaken by Global Affairs Canada under the Joint Task Force.
The interim land withdrawal in conjunction with section 5(e) of the Nunavut Mining Regulations will prohibit the prospecting or staking of a claim on the lands identified in the Order.
Interim land withdrawals are a widely used tool to facilitate the successful settlement of disputes since they are intended to protect lands while negotiations are ongoing. They do so by preventing Canada from disposing of land under the Territorial Lands Act for a specified period of time.
The enclosed submission recommends that the Governor General in Council, pursuant to paragraph 23(a) of the Territorial Lands Act, to make the attached Withdrawal from Disposal of Certain Tracts of Territorial Lands in Nunavut (Hans Island) Order (the Order), for a period of five years beginning on the day on which this Order is made.
Rejection of this proposed land withdrawal would continue to jeopardize the work of the Joint Task Force on Boundary Issues.
This submission has no direct or indirect financial implications for which approval of the Treasury Board is required, and no grants or contributions are associated with this submission. Routing procedures, as outlined in the directives on submissions, have been followed.
The regional Inuit organizations have been informed by Global Affairs Canada of the intention to seek approval for an interim land withdrawal on Hans Island.
A prospecting permit, which gives the permittee the exclusive right to prospect or stake a claim on the lands identified in the prospecting permit, was issued for these lands on February 4, 2019. There are currently no existing mining interests recognized on the lands identified in the interim land withdrawal.
For more information, please contact
Mr. Glen Stephens
Land and Water Management
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada