Caribou Legs faces off with premier

Caribou Legs had harsh words for Premier Darrell Pasloski after meeting him on Monday. Brad Firth, a.k.a Caribou Legs, is a Gwich’in ultra runner who recently ran from his hometown of Inuvik, N.W.T.

Caribou Legs had harsh words for Premier Darrell Pasloski after meeting him on Monday.

Brad Firth, a.k.a Caribou Legs, is a Gwich’in ultra runner who recently ran from his hometown of Inuvik, N.W.T., to Whitehorse to protest the Yukon government’s decision to open most of the Peel watershed up to new mineral staking.

Firth met with Pasloski and with Environment Minister Currie Dixon on Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday Firth wrote on his Facebook wall that the politicians’ explanation for the new Peel watershed land use plan was “confusing, embarrassing, and misleading.”

“Where do they get their facts from? Who writes their lies?” Firth wrote.

“Talk about (the) Yukon Party trying to intimidate Gwich’in people at every opportunity!”

In an interview Tuesday, Pasloski said the meeting with Firth was very cordial.

“I appreciated the fact that he brought a couple youth from Northwest Territories as well. I think that that was very important.”

Danny and Joseph Kaye, brothers from Inuvik, came to the meeting with Firth. They also ran with him on the first and last legs of Firth’s run.

“What we’re talking about is opportunities for our youth, in terms of careers and jobs in the territory,” said Pasloski. “Not to imply that everybody will work in mining, but as a primary industry in the territory it helps us create economic diversity.”

Pasloski said he took the meeting as an opportunity to explain some of the details of the Peel plan to Firth, since Firth said he had not looked at it.

“What I did tell him is that there will be no mass of mining and development over large tracts of land in the Peel. That is just not true at all.”

Pasloski also told him that the Yukon is doing much more to protect the Peel that what is being done in the same watershed just across the border with N.W.T., he said.

On that side of the border there is a push to extract oil and gas resources, Pasloski said.

“We are certainly providing significantly larger protection, and there’s a very big contrast between what is occurring in Yukon versus Northwest Territories in that area.”

On Monday, before the meeting with the premier, about 150 people rallied in front of the Yukon Legislative Assembly in support of Firth’s run.

“We don’t want this mining to go ahead in the watershed, and we want the water to stay with us for our grandchildren, and our grandchildren’s grandchildren,” Firth told the crowd.

Firth read from letters he had brought with him from Gwich’in people who live in the Peel watershed.

“Remember, mister, there is karma,” ended one letter.

“Yeah, those karmic debts, ‘eh?” said Firth “You gotta watch out for them. Did you hear that Darrell? Karmic debts.”

Many elders, chiefs and former chiefs from both Yukon and N.W.T. spoke at the rally in favour of protecting the Peel.

The First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun came with a bus-load of elders for the event.

Nacho Nyak Dun is currently suing the government over its handling of the Peel plan. The hearing is scheduled for July.

“Right now we’re in a very strong position, we believe, from a legal perspective, and we believe we will win,” said Nacho Nyak Dun Chief Ed Champion at the rally.

Yukon filmmaker and musician Dennis Allen, who is from Inuvik, also spoke at the rally.

“They gave them 20 per cent and I’m sure there were lots of minerals there for them to work for years and years. … But no, they wanted more and more and more,” said Allen.

“And for what? Buy a bigger Skidoo, buy a bigger truck, buy $150 jeans? Me, I go to Sally Ann. Five bucks. And then when I’m done with them I bring them back there.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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