Laying out a dream
We are a young couple whose dream it was to own a hunting area in the Yukon.
We holidayed in the Yukon many times and really enjoyed the beauty of the area and the people.
We took a huge leap of faith (and a lot of debt) and bought what we feel is the most beautiful hunting area in the world.
Our hunting concession has changed ownership several times in the past, but we plan on operating it for many, many years.
Our hunting concession is a difficult one to operate, due the remoteness, so we need to be able to make some changes to make it economically viable.
We did not realize that a 69-square-metre cook cabin would cause such uproar.
We have a huge interest in the area, not only in its aesthetic value, but also in its wildlife abundance and quality and would not do anything to harm either of these attributes of the area.
We thought we went through the proper channels to build the cook cabin.
We consulted with the lands branch, we talked to YESAB and we talked to other outfitters.
We went through the only process available to us.
We believed we were doing nothing wrong with building a cook cabin for our outfitting business.
Now we are being told there is a possibility we may have to remove the cook cabin.
Is this how outfitters get treated in the Yukon?
We work hard, consistently support the local economy, bring tourists from all over the world, donate meat to the communities, donate meat to the hospital and then get little support when we try to make an improvement to the area which, in turn, helps the Yukon economy.
We received notes of thanks from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun in 2005 and 2006 for the quality of moose meat given to it by us and the other outfitters in the area.
We believe in supporting the community we work in; it is something that is a part of who we are.
We would hope the community appreciates it as much as we enjoy working in the community.
We feel we are being targeted because we are not Yukon residents, but the truth is that we spend an equal amount of time in the Yukon as we do in Alberta.
We spend five months outfitting/living in the Yukon each year, five months outfitting/living in Alberta and we spend two months at hunting shows (primarily promoting the Yukon).
At the hunting shows we don’t just promote our Yukon hunting outfit, but we promote the Yukon.
We also promote the other Yukon outfitters as they are some of the best outfitters we have ever worked with.
We strongly suggest to our clients to spend extra days in the Yukon so they can better appreciate the territory and its colorful history.
We tell our clients about the great restaurants, shops and historical sites, so they help support the Yukon’s economy.
We operate an efficient and well-run outfit that consistently contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Yukon economy, year after year.
We have very little environmental impact.
We built the cook cabin for our outfitting business. We are not squatters.
We built the cook cabin for our clients that come from all over the world to see and enjoy an adventure in the northern Yukon.
We are an extremely remote outfitting area and need quality cabins for safety and care for our clients.
The vastness of the area is overwhelming to some of our clients, so having a nice cabin to enjoy a good home-cooked meal in helps them to relax after a tough, rugged hunt.
We try to work with the other user groups in the area.
This year we completely changed the areas we normally hunt sheep in, so we wouldn’t conflict with the exploration work that was going on.
We assisted the exploration company that experienced a tragic accident.
We took care of its camp as its staff took time off to deal with the situation.
Other than the government’s concern, we have never been directly contacted from any other groups as to any issues with our cook cabin.
Any negative comments have been secondhand information.
We have had people rafting the river and exploration company employees come to our camp for coffee and meals and they have had only positive things to say about our camp.
This situation has brought a great deal of stress to our family and crew and we hope it can be resolved in a positive manner and we can move on, working and enjoying the beauty of the Yukon.
Have a wonderful holiday season.
Chris & Sharron McKinnon, Bonnet Plume Outfitters, Calling Lake, Alberta