I have been reading the latest developments around the Peel with a sense of dread. Although I have not been at the forefront of the lobby to protect the Peel, I have participated in countless meetings over the years and written many letters of support for a strategy that will leave this region untouched by development.
Unlike many, I have actually spent time within the proposed region, hiked and paddled there, created an art installation as an Ode to the Wind River. As an artist, I continue to spread the word about the incredible wilderness treasures we have in the Yukon, the Peel watershed region being one of them.
It has intrinsic value as nature and wilderness Ã the contribution it makes to the health of our planet, our well-being as humans and of the spiritual connection one derives from being in it. This region has far more value as an intact, undeveloped expanse of land that enables its boreal ecosystem to function. And so, if this natural resource is sacrificed, to what end are we sacrificing this invaluable place?
Most Yukoners feel this area needs to be protected, a fact borne out of the last eight years of meetings and consultations. This is our common ground. We need to work out the plan from that stance, as stewards of this land, as keepers of this intact wilderness for future generations. It belongs to all of us and we have a responsibility to guard it well and forever, not with shortsightedness, nor for financially or politically driven reasons.
The mining industry is not under threat in the Yukon even if this area is not developed. Everyone wants certainty and if the certainty is that the area is protected, there are many other options. Could we instead set an example as those with the foresight to protect wilderness when so many countries worldwide can no longer do so because they no longer have any? Are we becoming one of those countries?
For the current Yukon Party government to now disclose that all of the time, effort and goodwill that was put into these proceedings (and I speak of all of the participants that were involved), will be totally dismissed because it was never its intention in the first place to consider protecting the area is shameful and deceitful. All I can say is shame on you for being dishonest. Shame on you for discounting all of the work that went into this process and shame on you for being so shortsighted.
Patiently, I await for wiser heads to prevail. I only despair it will not happen before the current government comes to pass. Just remember it is harder to undo development than to prevent it in the first place.
As a friend once said, gone is gone.