The deadline for comments on the Peel watershed planning process draws near. I hope this is the last letter I need to write to expound my steadfast support of the final recommended plan arrived at by the planning commission, and appeal to the government to support that plan, and abandon the new plans it has proposed in its stead.
I cannot express enough what a fantastic work the planning commission has done over the six years of the planning process. The document they produced struck me as a template for the 21st century: a reflection of the many and diverse values in our society in relation to the land.
For once, many values were treated equally, without the discrimination and prejudice that has heralded land use in the Yukon since the 19th century.
I urge the resource sector to champion the original land-use plan by supporting it. Many companies staked in the Peel watershed while the land-use planning process was underway. Is it fair to compromise existing values and interests in the land, many of them ancient, with eyes wide open to the fact that a planning process was going on?
I urge the resource industry to show Yukoners and the world that in the Yukon, in the 21st century, we do things right, and really invest in the future by showing respect today.
This respect is exemplified by Victoria Gold Corp. partnering with the First Nation of the Nacho Nyak Dun and respecting the First Nation’s desires to keep industrial development out of the Peel watershed. This strikes me as the epitome of how I would like to see my culture respect the lands and peoples in this century and beyond.
Will the chamber of mines also take this wise and practical path? To detour from it is a guarantee of enduring polarization, resentment, protests and legal battles. What could scare away investors more? And what is the cost?
The price is the integrity of the land that we value just as it is, and all the meaning that it holds. Extracting mineral and energy resources are a part of our nature, but I can only celebrate this talent when doing so respects the other facets of our nature: biological, cultural and spiritual.
The Government of Yukon should do what is right in a democratic society of the 21st century: respect all peoples, respect democratic process, respect wisdom of youth and elders, and show that the Yukon’s resource sector is progressive, setting an example for the world. It should adhere to the final recommended plan.
We all come from and are connected to the land. Let the government know what you feel is right. Nothing stands in the way of our citizenship and the responsibilities that implies.