Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski:
Not long ago you travelled halfway around the world to attend the funeral of a man whom you did not know, but I presume must have been inspired by, to travel so far. Nelson Mandela was undeniably an inspiring man.
He was a true visionary, and a powerful leader. He was powerful because of his humility, the depth of his compassion and wisdom, and his commitment to democracy, and equality for all.
I found myself hoping, in the days leading up to your government’s release of the Peel plan, that you might have brought home some of the lessons of his life, and leadership. Alas, my hopes were dashed when I saw the contents of your plan last week.
It seems that you did not have the intention of honouring, in any way, the democratic process that had gone into the commission’s final recommended land use plan for the Peel watershed, which respected the input by First Nations, the general public, and the environmental organizations and tourism associations of this territory. In fact, your government has succeeded in not only making a mockery of democracy by rejecting the commission’s plan, but has violated the constitutional rights of First Nations people in the process as well.
I ask you, what kind of place are we leaving for future generations, once our wildlands have been carved up and parceled off to short-term industrial interests, and the last of the non-renewable resources are extracted from under the ground, leaving the territory’s lands and waters irreparably damaged?
What then? Why do we insist on bankrupting the futures of those who come after us?
What is it going to take for all of us to see that our wilderness is our most valuable resource? Intact watersheds like the Peel are so precious we simply cannot dare risking the loss of them.
The Peel is no more sacred than the rest of the Yukon, but it represents the best of what is wild. It is still intact as a watershed, unmarred by roads and mines and industrial waste, large enough to sustain populations of wild animals, and wild enough to offer humans, that choose to venture there, soul-enriching wilderness experiences. Experiences that we can no longer take for granted in this ever industrialized, fragmented and polluted world.
In the wake of your announcement last week I find myself feeling not only disillusioned, but even betrayed. I’m just one of thousands who participated in this Peel planning process, over seven years, in good faith, always choosing to believe that honesty and integrity would prevail, and that in the end your government would take “the high road” – the road that respects the majority of Yukon people’s wishes, as well as the needs of future generations.
Alas, you have not, and for this I feel not only anger, but also a deep pervading sadness. The Peel is just part of a bigger picture, and I grieve that as species we will not wake up in time to stem the tide of our destructive natures, and to care properly for this planet we call home.