Open letter to John Edzerza, minister of Environment:
We refer to your speech in the legislature on March 29, about the Peel Watershed, in which you imply your words speak for our affected First Nations.
The Na-cho Nyak Dun and Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation governments have made their position clear to the Peel Watershed Planning Commission through the land-use planning process mandated by our Final Agreements.
Your ambiguous and potentially misleading statement about First Nation desires in the Peel Watershed is not well received by our governments: Quote: “I know that even the First Nations probably have not ruled out any kind of economic development activities that might be available to them in that region because it’s a massive amount of land.”
For your information, Na-cho Nyak Dun and Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nations have given serious thought as to how and where to work with both renewable and nonrenewable economic development activities in our traditional territories. Our First Nations are working actively with the nonrenewable sector as shown by our engagement with mining and exploration companies south of the Wernecke Mountains and in the Dawson region.
However, protection of the headwaters of the Peel River and the entire Peel Watershed is of paramount importance to us and we are not interested in seeing further development of nonrenewable industries or roads in the watershed.
We ask that you understand and respect that it is our First Nation governments that speak to our position on the Peel Watershed. This is not your prerogative.
We will not give up in our endeavour to protect the Peel Watershed. We, the First Nations, would greatly appreciate your support to protect this portion of our traditional lands.
Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation
Simon Mervyn, chief
Na-cho Nyak Dun First Nation