I am writing in regards to Friday’s story Aishihik Dam Damns Lifeline, which discusses Gerald Dickson’s film Declining Food Source.
Although I have not seen the film, nor intend on seeing the film, I do have some comments on this topic in a general sense.
First, in 2009 it would be safe to say that the lives of 99 per cent of Yukoners benefit from electricity, including Dickson and his fellow Champagne and Aishihik First Nations members.
Most of us have lights in our home, operate electric appliances and, especially in remote communities, plug our vehicles in during the winter.
This is over and above the “background electricity” we all use almost unknowingly in things like streetlights, public buildings and through industry.
Electricity is necessary in our industrialized, Western world.
Hydroelectricity may be the most “green” energy source around.
And, as a Yukoner who is concerned about the environment, I think that hydroelectric power is the way of the future in Yukon.
Second, although I am not an expert on this, I sincerely doubt that most or many Champagne and Aishihik First Nations members actually get much, or intend to get much, of their food from Aishihik Lake or Aishihik River. I suspect that most people from the First Nation territory drive to the Superstore, like most people in southern Yukon, and purchase their food.
This is the reality for most Yukoners of today, including First Nation people.
It is a myth, rooted in a nostalgic throwback to traditions of long-ago, to think that people still get much for their food from the bush or the rivers.
In this regard, I sincerely question Dickson’s assertion that the Champagne and Aishihik people have lost much of their “food source” when it is likely that most of those people do not have any intention of harvesting that source.
In our industrial, Western world we require energy, in the form of electricity.
In the Yukon, with vast, relatively intact forests and waterways, we hope that we can choose greener sources for that energy.
Hydroelectricity is our best option.
The alternatives would be much more detrimental to the Yukon environment used by all Yukoners.
These include increased use of diesel fuel generators, or possibly coal, maybe nuclear in the future.
Do we really want to explore those other less green options because a few Champagne and Aishihik citizens may now have less success on weekend trout-fishing excursions for pleasure?
As the Yukon moves further into the 21st century, we need to come up with 21st-century solutions to securing energy and food resources.
These solutions need to reflect current technologies and ways of life.
These solutions should benefit all Yukoners, and not just those who feel the need to revisit traditional lifestyles of the past.
All Yukoners need to get beyond blaming present-day issues on perceived past injustices.
Anti-government rhetoric and nostalgia are not ways to help Yukon secure a place in the future.
With that said, I completely encourage Yukon to seek out additional sources of hydroelectric power, including additional turbines on the Aishihik River.