I’ve noticed a disturbing trend from some individuals who attempt to erode First Nations claim to our lands here in the Yukon. It’s the attempt to claim that Yukon First Nations are just immigrants no different from the new immigrants who more recently arrived here, just that we’ve been here longer.
This is flawed in so many ways that it can only be explained by an underlying racism that believes that us Yukon First Nations are a substandard culture of nomads without a society. A little better than animals.
Well, this is a simple uneducated view that fails to recognise the complex societies that existed in this land for over 20,000 years. DNA evidence traces our ancestors settling this virgin land in multiple waves. And our origins are the same as everyone’s no matter what race… we all come from Africa, even Europeans. So really Africa is our true first home and we all migrated around the world and settled it. So First Nations were the first to settle North America and after 20,000 years there immigrants arrived
from Europe at first then from around the world.
When these new immigrants arrived the Americas were already populated by complex societies who owned specific areas with their own languages and cultures. It was not the Terra Nullis (nobody’s land) as proclaimed by the Catholic Church at the time and is obviously still believed by some still stuck in the Middle Ages.
I’m blessed to belong to both peoples of this land. My mother’s Tlingit people have been here for tens of thousands of years… this is their home. My father’s Acadian people immigrated to North America in 1640 from their “first” home, France. When they arrived to their “new” home they recognized and respected the original owners of that land, the Mi’kmaq. The Mi’kmaq helped these new immigrants survive in their new home and they lived in harmony and peace.
Recently the Supreme Court in their Tsilhqot’in descision recognized this original ownership of this land by the original peoples of this land. In recognizing “aboriginal title” the Supreme Court helped dispel the Doctrine of Discovery that still persists to this day.
Yukon First Nations also had their original ownership recognized and reaffirmed when Canada signed the final agreements with us. This was also our way of sharing our home with the new peoples who also call Yukon their new home.
It’s only by working together to implement these final agreements that will help benefit all Yukoners: us Yukon First Nations and the new Yukoners. Then hopefully we can finally put that annoying papal bull to rest and start living in peace and harmony!
Duane Gastant’ Aucoin