Making a mess of the Peel and our reputation

Making a mess of the Peel and our reputation Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski and cabinet: By this date, it is no doubt clear to you and your advisors that "development interests" and "environmental interests" are polarized about the future of pl

Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski and cabinet:

By this date, it is no doubt clear to you and your advisors that “development interests” and “environmental interests” are polarized about the future of planning and management for the Peel watershed.

Please do not stop reading this letter simply because I support the final recommended plan. Along with my support for that plan, I want to express to you my deep concern for the position you and your government are placing us in through the new “Peel consultation.”

Yukon has been known nationally and internationally as a leader in the creation of “modern treaties,” or comprehensive land claims. You are risking this truth, and our reputation, by attempting planning “modifications” that are not in the spirit of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

Further, you are risking generations of hard-won good working relationships among First Nations and newcomers. This is not good for Canada, where people struggle deeply with such relationships.

I am deeply concerned at your approach. You are diminishing the ability of northern people to determine our own futures if you do anything but accept the Peel planning commission’s final recommended plan.

In politics, we win and lose. In planning, we work hard to develop solutions that are not win-lose, but allow people who disagree with each other to go ahead and work together on a sustainable future, even as our disagreements persist. We are all in this together, and we are all here to stay.

Your role as government is to lead this process with all our interests at heart, not as a government elected by a narrow majority that then forgets the rest. You represent, and work for, all of us.

How can you risk the credibility that so many northern governments – Nunavut, N.W.T., Yukon, Alaska, Greenland – have worked so hard to gain? We are perennially regarded as backwoods labourers unable to grasp the complicated world of real money and global issues. You know, and I know, that this is not who we are.

I am a born-and-raised northerner who has recently resettled outside of Haines Junction. Right now, I teach Management of Aboriginal Natural Resources at Yukon College and University of Alberta (in a split classroom joined by distributed learning technology.) From my perspective it is clear that the Yukon government is risking legal action. Because the Yukon Land Claims Settlement Act is an act of Parliament, your actions have national significance.

You risk losing, for us, the credibility we have built up with the rest of the country, and its leadership in Ottawa, over generations. I am asking you to do the right thing. Accept the final recommended plan for the Peel. Your government stands to gain far more in credibility for your leadership, and other northern leaders in the long run, than it can possibly gain from giving in to pressures that are immediate and possibly short-term.

I am happy to discuss this, and any related issues, with you and your staff.

Ellen Bielawski

Haines Junction