Carcross/Tagish receives Kotaneelee royalties

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation received $388,085 last week from the Yukon government’s Kotaneelee fund.

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation received $388,085 last week from the Yukon government’s Kotaneelee fund.

Premier Dennis Fentie delivered a cheque to chief Mark Wedge on Wednesday, two days after the First Nation’s land claim settlement took effect.

“Under our oil and gas regime we share royalties with a First Nation based on a formula,” Fentie said Thursday.

“Given the fact that Carcross/Tagish First Nation is now self-governing, has finalized their agreements, they have received their allotted share of the fund and on an ongoing basis will receive an allotment from the Kotaneelee royalties.

“Out of development of resource here in the territory there is now a revenue stream flowing to the First Nation governments.”

The 11 Yukon First Nations with settled land claim agreements receive royalty payments for territorial oil and gas resources.

The formula is complicated, but it is based on sharing Crown royalties between the territorial and First Nation governments, said Fentie.

“As the claims process evolved in the Yukon a number of First Nations had yet to finalize, so their monies were held in trust, thereby the creation of the Kotaneelee fund,” he said.

“Once they finalized, eligibility to access the fund their portion of the Kotaneelee fund is released.

“On an ongoing basis, annually, the formula will dictate how much each self-governing First Nation receives out of oil and gas royalties in the Yukon.”

The Carcross/Tagish payment brings total Kotaneelee royalties paid to First Nations to $4.2 million.

“These royalties will allow our First Nation to plan for the future and enhance business and employment opportunities for our members,” Wedge said in a release.

The Kotaneelee gas plant, owned and operated by Devon Canada Corp, is the Yukon’s only producing oil and gas resource.

It is located in southeast Yukon, in the traditional territory of the Kaska Tribal Council.

But since the council members — the Kaska Dena Council, Ross River Dena Council and Liard First Nation — have not signed land claim agreements, they receive no Kotaneelee royalties, said Fentie.

“The Kaska nation receives no royalty payments whatsoever, at least under this government’s watch, from the royalties being produced in the Kotaneelee,” he said.

“They receive not a nickel of royalties from the Kotaneelee.”

Neither does the White River First Nation, which is the only other Yukon First Nation without a land claim settlement.

But the Kaska did receive money from Kotaneelee gas production in the past.

“There was a point in time in the ‘90s when a former NDP government did flow funds to the Kaska, but I don’t know the details there,” said Fentie, who was a backbencher with the NDP government of Piers McDonald as Watson Lake’s MLA.

“Whether it came out of the Kotaneelee fund or whatever it was, I wasn’t privy to that. I wasn’t in cabinet.”

The Kotaneelee field has been in production since 1979.

The Yukon has held control of its oil and gas revenues since the 1998 Yukon Oil and Gas Act took effect.