After court, trapline still under threat

After nearly a decade, and a decision from the highest court in Canada, Johnnie Sam thought the days of fighting for his trapline were over. Apparently, he was wrong.

After nearly a decade, and a decision from the highest court in Canada, Johnnie Sam thought the days of fighting for his trapline were over.

Apparently, he was wrong.

“They put a bunch of horses on my place now, right on my squirrel trail,” the 73-year-old trapper said. “They’re making some sort of a corral or something and that’s very disturbing.”

In 2004, the territory surveyed and zoned a parcel of land for agricultural use and granted it to farmer Larry Paulsen.

That parcel included a portion of Sam’s trapline.

So the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation took the territory to court, citing a failure to consult.

By the time the Supreme Court of Canada decided on the issue in November 2010, Paulsen had moved on.

Now, that exact piece of land remains zoned for agricultural use, but it is empty, said Chris Wearmouth from the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.

Sam continues to maintain his line regularly, like all trappers should, he said.

But he hasn’t set any traps since he found the horses out there, assuming they’ve scared away all the animals he would be trapping or that they’d get snared in his traps themselves.

But the territory can’t comment on the horses, unless it knows where the horses are.

“There is other agricultural land out there, in the area,” said Wearmouth. “So we’d really need to know exactly where this piece of land is before we could speak to the uses of the land.”

But Sam doesn’t know how to identify, exactly, where they are except to say that they are on his squirrel line.

A trapping concession is protected under the Yukon Wildlife Act, but conflicts are not new for trappers, especially with more campers, hikers, quartz-mining stakers, ATVs and snowmobiles crisscrossing the territory’s back woods.

In the past, the Department of Environment has helped trappers erect signs. But it is important to note holding a trapline concession does not mean a trapper owns the land, said Helen Slama, the department’s point person for trapping.

A trapping concession provides trappers the exclusive “opportunity” to trap, not the right, she said.

With any land parcels given out, the agriculture branch tries to mitigate possible conflicts, said branch director Tony Hill.

That includes an obligatory Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act application and consultation notices sent to any affected First Nations, asking for them to identify any problems with things like hunting or trapping in the area, he said.

But Sam works for the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation’s lands and resources department. He is also a councillor with the First Nation.

There has been no consultation about horses on his trapline, he said.

“No consultation to the lands and resources down here that they did that,” said Sam. “And after they started, they say, ‘It’s already started, we can’t stop it.’

“They give out farmland, whatever land they want, they give out. It’s right on my land. They’d be horses all over the place in the bush now, I guess.”

Hill isn’t sure what other options Sam has.

“I think what the trapper should do is call the local pound’s district and say, ‘There’s a horse at large,’” said Hill. “And get somebody to come and pick it up.

“They may not even be on an agriculture parcel. There’s lots of people with horses.”

Sam, who’s been trapping on that land since he got out of the hospital after residential school as a child, is still waiting for the promises of his court case, he said.

“After the court there’s supposed to be a consultation process put in place, so let’s bring that out and see what happens,” he said. “Or we see how far we go – (the horse owner) either pays compensation, or I’ll be glad if he just pull right out. I’ll be glad if he just pull right out, rather than taking this as far as we can, like we did before.”

And like many elders who helped write Yukon First Nations’ land claims, Sam wonders if they are being implemented like they were intended to be.

“That’s not working together,” he said. “That’s not the way we wanted it. They signed that book too, you know, the UFA (Umbrella Final Agreement). We were saying, ‘Sure, we’ll co-operate and work together, hand-in-hand.’ So they should have followed that and everything would have worked out alright.

“That land, I lost it now.”

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Most Read