Carcross/Tagish First Nation has issued a proclamation that pledges reforms to the First Nation’s relationship with government and management of resource extraction on its traditional territory.
The First Nation is pledging to act upon the proclamation which they say will apply to all users of lands, waters and other resources in its traditional territory, which straddles the British Columbia and Yukon border.
In a March 30 ceremony that was observed both in person and by more than 90 people over Zoom, C/TFN elders and other officials made the proclamation.
“We who are Tagish and we who are Tlingit, our heritage has grown roots into the earth since the olden times. Therefore we are part of the earth and the water. We know our creator entrusted us with the responsibility of looking after the land into perpetuity, and the water and whatever is on our land and what is beneath our land,” the proclamation reads.
It’s followed by a notice regarding use of lands and waters in the C/TFN territory:
“Any uses of our lands, waters and all other resources within our traditional territories must be legitimized and validly sanctioned by our councils,” it reads.
“Any future uses of our lands, waters and other resources must be with our appropriate free, prior and informed consent.”
It goes on to say that any use of land or waters not in compliance with the proclamation will be challenged both in C/TFN’s own peacemakers courts or in mainstream courts.
Along with C/TFN’s proclamation, the March 30 gathering served as the unveiling work that will guide future land use planning in the southern Yukon and a piece of technology that is supposed to ease consultation between First Nations and groups that want to use or develop the land.
The process of preparing for regional land use planning for C/TFN as well as Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council is being called “how we walk with the land and the water.”
Dexter Kotylak, the project manager working to prepare for land use planning said the work, ongoing since 2017, is a response to a lack of a complete plan to guide land development.
“They have concerns over the kind of piecemeal approach to development, the lack of mapped information based on First Nation knowledge and the lack of articulation of desired planned outcomes prior to starting the planning process,” Kotylak said.
A large part of the work that Kotylak presented was efforts to merge First Nations traditional knowledge with science on resources like mapping in order to inform the planning process. He said the result could be flexible and informed policies to do things like protect wild sheep lambing grounds in the spring.
The gathering also saw a presentation about Nations Connect, a new online portal that all government and industry consultation with C/TFN will be routed through.
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