Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski and Resources Minister Brad Cathers:
I am writing in memory of my friend Mike Dehn, who passed away last month. He was a former executive director at CPAWS in Whitehorse and a tireless worker to protect the environment and in particular the pristine Peel watershed.
I met Mike while I was on tour in the Yukon and he came to several of my shows. I am a touring musician. I travel and perform all over the planet.
I have read and listened to the arguments put forward by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission and I believe that the findings are accurate and fair. The commission has spent six years doing a thorough study which included input from all key stakeholders – First Nations, government and the public.
Wilderness is not protected when you allow access to it by roads. This is a no-brainer.
I am in favour of 100 per cent protection of the Peel. The commission is suggesting a compromise that I think is more than fair. I understand that the First Nations signed agreements with you giving up title to their traditional territories, with the understanding that they would have input to how the land is accessed and developed under regional land-use planning. Your proposed plan for development does not honour these agreements. In my opinion this is unethical at the very least.
I am not a citizen of the Yukon and yet I care deeply for this beautiful territory. I care because I have spent time there and have been awed by the beauty and the power of the wilderness (even just knowing it is there is enough for me). I care because I have family and friends who are Yukoners. I care because I know how little true wilderness there is left on this planet.
When I tour in other parts of the world people I meet actually admire and respect Canada because we have wilderness – this makes me proud to be a Canadian. I care about the Porcupine caribou, the largest herd in the world, which winters on the Peel and endures the twice-yearly perilous journey between there and their calving grounds in Alaska. Allowing roads and resource developers into their habitat will, without question, endanger their existence.
Probably most importantly, I care because preserving wilderness –
great big, huge expanses of it – helps alleviate the devastating effects of climate change. Because of this, preserving the Peel is, in my opinion, not just about the Yukon, it concerns all Canadians and people across the planet.
I am a mother and a grandmother and I want this planet to be habitable by my grandchildren’s children. If we do not respect the land and care for the natural environment, our children and future generations will pay the price for our folly.
Please consider the Peel Watershed Planning Commission’s Final Recommended Plan and act according to their recommendations.