Canada has failed to negotiate a financial transfer agreement with the Teslin Tlingit Council in a way that takes into account the First Nation’s citizenship, a Yukon Supreme Court judge has ruled. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Canada must take TTC citizenship into account in funding negotiations, Yukon Supreme Court rules

Agreements are are supposed to be renewed every five years. TTC’s has only been extended since 2010

Canada has failed to negotiate a funding agreement with the Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) in a way that takes into account the Yukon First Nation’s citizenship despite having a legal obligation to do so, the Yukon Supreme Court has ruled.

In a Jan. 15 decision, Chief Justice Ron Veale found that Canada “has continuously failed to negotiate” a financial transfer agreement (FTA) with the TTC, “pursuant to its legal obligation” since 2010, the last time a FTA was signed.

FTAs are supposed to be renewed every five years; however, the TTC’s FTA has only been extended since 2010 due to what it says are stalled or improper negotiations with Canada. The agreements make up 70 to 75 per cent of the First Nation’s annual revenue.

The TTC had filed a petition to the court in December 2017 seeking a judicial review of negotiations surrounding its FTA with Canada.

In the petition, which was heard in court in early December, the TTC argued that it has been chronically underfunded for years because Canada has “refused or failed” to negotiate a FTA in a way that adheres to its self-government and final agreements, thereby breaking the law.

It sought six declarations from the court outlining Canada’s alleged failures.

Canada, in response, argued the TTC’s petition was “premature and unnecessary” as negotiations were still underway, and that the court granting TTC’s requested declarations could have undue impacts on negotiations with TTC and other self-governing First Nations.

In his decision, Veale declared that Canada has a legal obligation to negotiate a FTA with TTC that takes into account funding based on the TTC’s citizenship. He also declared that during negotiations, 10 factors outlined in TTC’s self-government agreement — such as giving TTC enough resources to provide public services for its citizens at a level comparable to other places in the Yukon and taking into account TTC’s specific capital and operational needs — “may” be taken into account.

Under its final agreement, TTC citizenship is based not on status under the Indian Act, but on a blood quantum system.

“This definition of Citizenship was a monumental achievement because it terminated the colonial and divisive status versus non-status distinction that artificially divided Yukon First Nations members,” Veale wrote.

However, Canada continues to base its funding for the TTC on how many of TTC citizens are “Status Indians” instead of TTC’s own citizenship count.

About 25 per cent of TTC’s citizens do not have “status.”

The discrepancy and resulting financial shortfalls have been noted in several joint reviews in recent years, Veale wrote, but, nonetheless, was not addressed during negotiations for the 2010 FTA.

“The implication for Canada’s interpretation is that it effectively ignores or downplays the constitutional obligation that flows from (TTC’s final agreement),” Veale wrote.

“… Canada submitted that this declaration is inconsistent with reconciliation and the nation-to-nation relationship. On the contrary, this declaration promotes reconciliation by ensuring that Canada negotiates the demographic features of TTC on a timely basis which successive governments of Canada have failed to do.”

“The concept of self-government for First Nations holds great promise as it is embraced by Canada and First Nations,” Veale continued. “However, self-government financing must be negotiated in an honourable way to ensure First Nations survive and thrive. It also ensures that Canada and TTC continue their journey down the road to reconciliation.”

Veale wrote that he did not grant the majority of the other declarations sought by TTC “because they involve specific factors that cannot be taken into consideration individually or in isolation.”

The TTC’s current FTA extension expires March 31.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Medical lab technologist Angela Jantz receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Whitehorse hospital on Jan. 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Online booking system for Moderna vaccine opens as mobile teams prepare to visit communities

“The goal is to protect everyone and stop the spread of COVID-19”

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Jan. 15, 2021

Zhùr, the ancient wolf pup found mummified in permafrost at Last Chance Creek mine in July 2016. (Government of Yukon/Submitted)
‘Mummy’ wolf pup unearthed in permafrost paints a picture of ice age ancestors

Zhùr is the best preserved and most complete mummy of an ancient wolf found to date.

Former premier Tony Penikett begins a presentation at the Whitehorse Public Library about his book, Hunting the Northern Character, on Dec. 11, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former premier named to Order of Canada

Tony Penikett reflects on career

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton won’t be runing for re-election. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mayo-Tatchun MLA won’t run for re-election

Liberal MLA Don Hutton won’t be running for re-election. A former wildland… Continue reading

Large quantities of a substance believed to be cocaine, a large amount of cash, several cells phones and a vehicle were all seized after RCMP searched a Whistle Bend home on Jan. 6. (Photo courtesy RCMP)
Seven arrested after drug trafficking search

RCMP seized drugs, money from Whistle Bend residence on Jan. 6

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Whitehorse RCMP are seeing a growing trend of vehicle break-and-enters in the Kopper King area. (Black Press file)
Series of break-and-enters in Kopper King area

Series of break-and-enters in Kopper King area Whitehorse RCMP are seeing a… Continue reading

Signage near the newly opened Dawson City ice bridge. (Sandy Silver/Facebook)
Dawson City ice bridge opens

The Dawson ice bridge has opened. In a Jan. 6 social media… Continue reading

Most Read