Respect the final agreements

Ruth Massie Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski: On behalf of the Council of Yukon First Nations and its members, I express our profound disappointment with the action of Yukon government to subvert the land use planning process established in the Yuk

Ruth Massie

Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski:

On behalf of the Council of Yukon First Nations and its members, I express our profound disappointment with the action of Yukon government to subvert the land use planning process established in the Yukon First Nation final agreements, reject the final plan recommended by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission and impose a new plan that differs dramatically from the final recommended plan.

This final recommended plan has been viewed generally by the public as a balanced approach amongst the various interests within the Peel watershed. In fact, the Yukon First Nations advised last week that they adopted the final recommended plan in relation to their parcels of settlement land within the Peel watershed.

Yukon government’s decision to impose a new plan is contrary to the overwhelming public support expressed for adoption of the final recommended plan during the final round of public consultation facilitated by Yukon government.

The Yukon First Nations want to establish a constructive governmental relationship with the Yukon government in order to enhance governance for Yukoners and build a strong economy in the Yukon.

The CYFN members are implementing their respective Yukon First Nation Final and Self-Government Agreements. They supported the devolution of lands and resources in the Yukon Territory on the understanding that the Yukon First Nations and Yukon government would be able to work together to manage and administer those matters and develop successor resource development legislation to replace the outdated mirror legislation.

First Nations have invested their monies in the Yukon Territory and undertaken economic development initiatives, including the development of partnerships with various proponents to support mining activities within their respective traditional territories.

In the end, we want to establish effective and efficient processes to manage the lands and resources of our traditional territories based on the values and perspectives of all Yukoners. We want to support sound economic development projects that bring long-term benefits to our communities, citizens and businesses without compromising our environment.

Unfortunately, the CYFN and its members have been mired in an increasingly adversarial discourse with Yukon government. This discourse, which has been defined by confrontation and litigation, has been tiresome and frustrating and only serving to alienate Yukon First Nations and Yukon government.

It appears that Yukon government’s decision to impose a new plan for the Peel watershed is consistent with this discourse.

At this point, the CYFN has deep concerns about the approach of the Yukon government with respect to the Peel watershed and we support the efforts of our members to commence legal action to protect their interests – and the interests of the vast majority of Yukoners – in the Peel watershed and maintain the integrity of the Yukon First Nation final agreements.

The CYFN cannot support the decisions of Yukon government when those decisions are made contrary to process established in the Yukon First Nation final agreements. These constitutional documents belong to all Yukoners.

They are blueprints for cooperation and collaboration between Yukon First Nations and Yukon government and amongst all Yukoners. They cannot be abandoned or disregarded for reasons of political expediency. Yukoners have invested heavily in the implementation of the Yukon First Nation Final and Self-Government Agreements and, in particular, the public has committed extensive time and resources into the development and review of the Peel Watershed Planning Commission’s final recommended plan. Yukon government’s high-handed and cavalier rejection of that plan serves to dismiss that public investment in both the land claim and self-government agreements and the land use planning process.

Moreover, the CYFN cannot support decisions that serve to prejudice the interests of the future generations of our children and other Yukoners. In our view, Yukon government’s new plan that permits the construction of new roads within the Peel watershed and opens up about 70 per cent of the Peel watershed to mineral exploration is breaching our duty to future generations to protect this pristine area. This is highly irresponsible and short-sighted.

In closing, the purpose of land use planning under the Yukon First Nation final agreements is to provide governments and users certainty about the sorts of activities permitted and not permitted in an area. In this case, the new plan imposed by the Yukon government in the Peel watershed only serves to undermine the certainty provided by the Yukon First Nation final agreements. In turn, this will raise concerns from industry and others about the viability of investing in the Yukon Territory.

The CYFN urges the Yukon government to set aside its new plan and work with the Yukon First Nations in accordance with the Yukon First Nation final agreements. As a public government, Yukon has a trust-like duty to manage the lands and resources in the Yukon Territory in the best interests of the electorate – not industry or special interest groups.

We urge Yukon government to act accordingly. We remain prepared to work with you to carry out that duty.

Ruth Massie is grand chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

A pedestrian passes by an offsales sandwich board along Fourth Avenue in Whitehorse on Oct. 22. NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised concerns Oct. 21 in the legislature about increased hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption that correlate with an extension in the hours alcohol can be sold in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Alcohol-related hospitalizations rise after off-sales hours extended

Reduced hours for off-sale liquor establishments likely part of Liquor Act spring reforms

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys) speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. The Yukon government has announced $2.8 million in tourism relief funding aimed at businesses in the accommodation sector that have already maxed out existing funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tourism relief funding offers $2.8 million to hotels and overnight accommodations

$15 million in relief funding is planned for the tourism sector over the next three years

The Whitehorse sewage lagoons photographed in 2011. With new regulations for wastewater anticipated to be introduced by the federal government within the next decade, the City of Whitehorse may soon be doing some prep work by looking at exactly what type of pollutants are making their way into the city’s wastewater. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Pondering pollutants

City could spend $70,000 looking at what contaminents are in waste water

Most of Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 graduates. The former students were welcomed back and honoured by staff at the school on Oct. 14 with a personalized grad ceremony for each graduate. (Submitted)
Individual Learning Centre grads honoured

Members of the Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 were welcomed… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Evan Lafreniere races downhill during the U Kon Echelon Halloweeny Cross-Country Race on Oct. 16. (Inara Barker/Submitted)
Costumed bike race marks end of season

The U Kon Echelon Bike Club hosted its final race of the… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Most Read