Something stinks in the forest
Open letter to Premier Dennis Fentie,
In my open letter to you dated March 22, I expressed my deep dissatisfaction with the fact local residents were not adequately consulted about your government’s plans to cut a large volume of timber in the ecologically sensitive Quill Creek Bench area just south of Haines Junction.
Furthermore, it appears that your government deliberately avoided an environmental assessment under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.
Your government opted to self-assess its own development plan and prepared an in-house environmental assessment screening report.
Both the screening report and the subsequent timber-cutting permits were issued on Sunday, November 27, 2005, just one day before the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act came into effect on November 28.
The purpose of the forest development plan for the Quill Creek area was to establish an interim wood supply for local companies while the draft integrated landscape plan had not yet been completed.
Your government could have easily waited another three months until the draft landscape plan was issued on March 7.
To date, not a single tree has been cut in the Quill Creek area under the interim wood supply permits.
At the time of its release, the landscape plan should have been used as guidance for the Quill Creek Bench forest development plan.
Because of the rushed process the current development plan for the Quill Creek Bench generally does not conform to the landscape plan’s recommendations.
As you are aware, the landscape plan was created in a collaborative effort by governments and non-government organizations and chaired by representatives from your government and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.
The plan provides recommendations for the development of forest resources in the Champagne and Aishihik traditional territory.
I was not surprised when I recently learned that many forestry stakeholders also expressed concerns regarding the inadequacy of the current draft forest development plan for the Quill Creek Bench and the forest management branch’s environmental assessment of this plan (A final development plan still has not been issued by the management board).
Some of these stakeholders are Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Kluane First Nation, Parks Canada, and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
Stakeholder comments were submitted to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Boards as part of the board’s public consultation process for new forestry applications in the Quill Creek area (All comments are posted on the YESAB website: Project numbers 2006-0304 and 2006-0306).
In their submissions, a number of stakeholders expressed that the implementation of the current draft forest development plan will potentially result in harming the regional ecosystems and, likely, in a loss of wildlife.
A common stakeholder recommendation was to apply better planning, research and meaningful public consultation to any new forest development in this area.
Fentie, I would like to encourage you to initiate a revision process for the current draft forest development plan for the Quill Creek Bench, September 21, 2005.
Among other requirements, the revision process must incorporate recommendations by the ILP, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Parks Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Yukon, local biologists and researchers and non-government environmental organizations, the local ski-club, and local tourism operators.
This revision process must also include meaningful consultation with local residents (e.g. open house, info flyers).
The revised forest development plan must then be submitted to YESAB for environmental and socio-economic screening.
This would be in keeping with your minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, who promised in his March 30 letter the development plan for the Quill Creek area will be submitted for a YESAA assessment.
I strongly believe that only a revised development plan that, as a minimum, conforms to the above listed requirements and has been screened by YESAB will assure that forest development carried out in the Quill Creek area will be ecologically sustainable, be compatible with other economic sectors, research and recreational interests and will provide sustained benefits for the community.
Lists don’t fly
Why have a no-fly list at all?
It is supposed to safeguard flyers, but ends up restricting the free movement of people who have done nothing wrong.
And what terrorist would use their own name these days anyway?
What is next? A no-drive list forbidding people driving trucks like those used in the Oklahoma and 1993 World Trade Centre bombings?
A no-knife list? To what extent will the police state overtake us?
Many need to fly to keep their jobs — their name on a no-fly list may make them unemployable. Many need to fly to a loved-one’s deathbed. Many people fly on vacation. Flying is a right.
A no-fly list violates the right to movement we all have.
It is especially egregious that the list is populated by gossip and innuendo from unreliable informers and torture by secret agencies without the possibility of the passenger confronting his accusers or the secret evidence.
We do need to safeguard flyers, but this can easily and safely be done while respecting human rights better.
Change the no-fly list to a special-scrutiny list. Let the listees be carefully examined for possible weapons. Require their luggage to go in the hold. Let the listees be seated furthest from the cabin. Let all the airplane crew know of them.
This will still be hugely embarrassing to the listees, but at least they will be able to fly, to go on vacation, to keep their jobs, to be with someone close facing death.
No ongoing dialogue with INAC
White River First Nation would like to thank you for the coverage White River First Nation wants reserve status (the News, January 12).
As councillor responsible for lands and resources, I would like, however, to address inaccurate statements by John Burdek, director of governance with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
First, Gavin Fitch, the INAC special “envoy,” has not responded to our letter outlining our expectations before we meet with him.
As Fitch has not met our expectations, there are no meetings planned with him and chief and council.
We are puzzled why Burdek would make such a statement without confirming this with the First Nation first.
Second, White River First nation has been very clear with Indian Affairs and Fitch that the First Nation is not interested in linking land claims negotiations with work on converting lands-set-aside to reserve status.
We are greatly disappointed that Burdek states that Indian Affairs is having “ongoing meetings and discussions” with the First Nation.
Burdek knows that he has never met with us or written to chief and council on this issue.
In fact, the First Nation has only received two “acknowledgement” letters for the year of e-mails, faxes and letters we have sent them.
White River first nation would like to encourage the Yukon Indian Affairs region to get on with the federal initiative of expanding the reserve land base.
Just because we are in the Yukon does not mean that Indian Affairs should discriminate against the First Nation.
White River First Nation