Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a major cabinet shuffle on Wednesday that saw northern affairs and Indigenous relations split apart.
The populations of Canada’s three northern territories has the largest percentage of Indigenous peoples in the country: 85.9 per cent in the eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, 50.7 per cent in the Northwest Territories and 23.3 per cent in the northwestern territory of Yukon, according to the 2016 census.
Previously, northern and Indigenous affairs was overseen by Carolyn Bennett as minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.
While Carolyn Bennett remains minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations after Wednesday’s cabinet shakeup, the northern affairs portfolio has been given to former fisheries, oceans and coast guard minister Dominic LeBlanc.
LeBlanc will now be known as Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade.
No details on reason for split
A news release issued by the prime minister’s office on Wednesday didn’t outline the reason for splitting northern affairs from Indigenous relations but said Bennett would “continue her important work to renew the nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples.”
The release gave details of Leblanc’s responsibilities for intergovernmental affairs and internal trade, but didn’t offer specifics on the northern affairs file other than that LeBlanc would “work to address the needs and priorities of Northerners, including devolution.”
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca
Related stories from around the North:
Denmark/Greenland: With Siumut’s re-election, will Greenland welcome Chinese investment?, Cryopolitics Blog
Norway: Northern Norway merger overwhelmingly rejected in regional referendum, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Sweden’s government wants to boost “neglected” countryside, Radio Sweden
United States: Inuit leaders meeting in Alaska seek greater voice in governance, Radio Canada International