Northern Affairs Program (Canada) : Although the first federal government agency charged exclusively with the administration of the Canadian North was not created until 1921, federal involvement in the North dates from the late nineteenth century. The Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 forced the federal government, through various units within the Department of the Interior, to establish local government services in the Yukon and to expand lands and mining administration to include northern areas. By the end of the First World War, wildlife conservation and Arctic sovereignty were added to the department's responsibilities. This expanding mandate led in 1921 to the creation of the Northwest Territories Branch, renamed in 1922 the Northwest Territories and Yukon Branch. It carried forward many of the responsibilities previously administered by the Department of the Interior. Activities as diverse as the issuance of mining, timber and grazing permits, homesteading rights, the delivery of services such as policing, and justice were dispensed though this branch.
As a result of mineral discoveries in the Northwest Territories in the 1930s and the boom associated with wartime projects such as the Alaska Highway and the Canol Pipeline, the federal government was required to take greater interest in the administration of the North. By the 1950s the growing need for social and other services in the North necessitated an even more interventionist approach. There was increasing demand for improvements in welfare, health care, environmental protection and regulation of scientific research. The wide-ranging services provided by the Northern Administration Branch, which was established in 1950, reflect these developments in the post-Second World War period. The federal government determined that a dedicated department should be created and in 1953 the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources (2-3 Eliz. II, c. 4) came into existence.
In 1966 the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (14-15 Eliz. II, c.25) was established replacing Northern Affairs and National Resources. The Northern Development Program became the Northern Affairs Program, and was substantially reorganized to better meet the Northern Policy guidelines enunciated in 1972. In 1973 the northern services of the federal government were brought together under the new Northern Affairs Program. The current configuration of the program consists of Natural Resources and Environment Branch, and Sectoral Policy and Program Devolution Branch. The Nunavut Secretariat operates out of headquarters and each territory is served by a regional office.