Failing the First
Nations hurts Yukon
Open letter to Premier Fentie:
The Na-cho Nyak Dun First Nation’s recent decision to pull out of regulatory talks on the United Keno Hill mine project is indeed cause for concern.
This is the second time this year that a Yukon First Nation government has felt compelled to publicly address their frustration with your government’s unwillingness to engage in meaningful consultations.
The ramifications of this failure to honour the agreements the Government of Yukon has endorsed and signed are many and far-reaching.
Land claim agreements, like any agreement, must be honoured. It is simply the right thing to do.
The expression, ‘a deal is a deal’ aptly applies here.
First Nations should expect to be consulted in a meaningful way and where it is feasible, have their concerns respected and accommodated.
The Yukon would expect no less from other levels of government, including our many contractual agreements with Canada.
My concern, however, goes beyond your failure to deal in good faith. What is becoming increasingly clear to the business community, especially the mining sector, is that the Yukon is not ready for exploration and production.
Your failure to work co-operatively is resulting in a poor environment for investment.
The risks associated with developing a mine may far outweigh any possible return potential investors hope to achieve.
Mining is at best a high-risk industry. The prospect of yet another risk factor for many companies and investors will be too much. They will go elsewhere or put off projects until stability is established between First Nations governments and the Territorial Government.
Your government has been very fortunate to have been in power at a time when the world economy has been growing and world metal prices are very high.
Now should be the time for the Yukon to benefit. Instead companies are facing set-backs because of your failure to work with self-governing First Nations.
The Yukon invests heavily each year in participating in the Cordilleran Roundup and promoting our vast mineral wealth and trying to build ‘good will.’
Your inability to work with First Nation governments negates much of this effort.
I would also point out that this is not simply a First Nation problem. It is a Yukon problem. The confrontational approach your government is pursuing will have long-term social and economic impacts.
Yukoners need to know what to expect when dealing with any aspect of the land, whether it is for development, for homes or for recreation. They deserve no less.
It is time for your government to mend fences with First Nation governments to ensure our economy can prosper.
When do you plan to start moving in this direction?
Arthur Mitchell, Leader, Yukon Liberal Party
I just read an article by Juliann Fraser in a recent issue of the Yukon News entitled Ethical consumers result in ethical corporations, which I found quite interesting and informative.
But I would like to address one statement in it about Roots that is highly misleading to readers as it’s not based on fact: Toward the end of the piece, your columnist wrote: “…The general impression from Roots, unfortunately, is that it has jumped aboard the environmental movement for profit’s sake — that ‘green’ is merely a gimmick.”
For the record, the environment is anything but a marketing gimmick at Roots as it has long been one of the core values of the company.
Given the focus of the article, I thought you might be interested in learning about the environmental heritage of Roots and the long-time commitment of Roots Co-Founders Don Green and Michael Budman to helping in this area.
Ever since Roots began in 1973, the environment has been an important issue at the company.
This is not to suggest Roots is beyond reproach or cannot do more to lessen our environmental imprint.
We can and will continue to extend our various initiatives connected to the environment, but as you will see, we are already quite active in this area.
Roots is strongly committed to and involved in environmental progress, contributing to and supporting a number of organizations devoted to protecting nature, wildlife and the environment.
Over the years, these have included Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation, Tides Canada Foundation, Waterkeepers Alliance and the Centre for Environmental Education.
Most recently, Roots was one of the main sponsors of the Flick Off environmental campaign launched in Ontario in the spring.
Adding to these initiatives, Roots is a proponent and example of responsible, environmentally friendly policies. We do this in various ways.
In addition to launching our Eco-Friendly Bag, Roots has introduced various products with sustainable benefits such as organic cotton apparel, organic socks, organic baby clothes and sweaters, and yogawear and linens made from bamboo yarn that is considered a natural and renewable resource. We also introduced the first in a series of products made of hemp.
Last year, we began using bamboo products in flooring, accessories and in-store cabinetry (using non-toxic chemicals in their fabrication). Using bamboo helps avoid further depleting forests for our new and renovated stores.
Where bamboo is not practical, we use reclaimed wood (thereby avoiding to cut down new trees).
Also, last year we began using long-lasting LED powered exit signs, which are more environmentally friendly.
Roots supports the environment in other ways as well. We use recycled paper for all company printed matter and the leather used at our factory in Toronto comes from environmentally friendly tanneries in Italy.
In 2005, we created Stop Global Warming bracelets, which, so far, have raised more than $150,000 funds for a US-based ecological organization spearheading action on this pressing matter.
At our head office, distribution centre and factory in Toronto, and in our retail stores, we strive to recycle as much material as possible.
In addition to utilizing separate blue boxes, most stores re-use as much material as possible.
When located in shopping centres, Roots makes use of the recycling facilities available to retail tenants.
In most of our stores, we have recycling bins for the recycling of paper, glass, cans and bottles and recently provided new bins to stores that lacked them.
In addition, Roots is an original sponsor of the city of Toronto’s annual Environmental Awards of Excellence (which we again sponsored in 2006). These Awards honour leading companies, organizations and individuals contributing to the greening of the city.
We also try to highlight the importance of the environment through various statements printed on some of our T-shirts.
Such messages are designed to raise awareness and further sensitize people about the need for constructive change and to encourage everyone to take responsibility in this area.
While we are proud of our environmental initiatives, we do not claim to have exhausted all possible efforts. One can never do enough in protecting our beleaguered natural world. It needs all the support it can get.
That’s why we’re always looking to develop more environmental and socially responsible initiatives. This commitment is an intrinsic part of our ethical, socially responsible approach to doing business.
Over the years, we have made huge strides forward and strive to go much further as our commitment to being even more eco-friendly is deeply rooted (no pun intended) in the ethos of the company.
I hope the above gives you a better understanding of Roots vis-à-vis the environment and shows that ‘green’ is a serious concern at Roots, not a “gimmick” as your article suggested.
Robert Sarner, Director of Communication and Public Affairs, Roots Canada, Toronto