Chiefs stand by promise to sue over S 6

Court action by First Nations is a “virtual absolute certainty” if the federal government pushes ahead with controversial changes to Yukon’s environmental assessment legislation.

Court action by First Nations is a “virtual absolute certainty” if the federal government pushes ahead with controversial changes to Yukon’s environmental assessment legislation, said Tom Cove, director of lands and resources for the Teslin Tlingit Council.

Cove spoke this morning at a hearing in Whitehorse of the parliamentary standing committee on aboriginal affairs and northern development.

Five law firms have already been hired to start the work to prepare for the potential litigation, he said.

The Town Hall Room at the Gold Rush Inn was standing room only, with about 150 people in the public audience.

Parliamentarians present said it is one of the best attended committee meetings they have ever seen.

Seven MPs travelled to Whitehorse for today’s hearing to hear input on Bill S-6, which will amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.

Representatives from eight Yukon First Nations as well as the Council of Yukon First Nations spoke to their shared opposition to four amendments they say were included in the bill at the last minute and without proper consultation.

The controversial bits of the proposed legislation would allow a federal minister to give binding policy direction to Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board and delegate responsibilities to the territorial minister. They would also give the Yukon government new powers to exempt projects from assessment in the event of a licence renewal or amendment, and impose new end-to-end timelines for assessments.

A theme of the First Nations’ presentations this morning hinged on the fact that Yukon’s assessment legislation was born out of decades of joint negotiations between First Nations, the Yukon and Canada.

When First Nations signed land claims agreements, they gave up title to more than 90 per cent of their territory in exchange for promises that they would have active participation in land management decisions on Crown land, the committee heard.

The environmental assessment process as it exists today was born out of that collaborative process, and so were the amendments agreed upon during a mandated five-year review.

Any further amendments must also be born out of collaboration with First Nations, and these four amendments were not, the First Nations argued.

Premier Darrell Pasloski also addressed the committee this morning, and suggested that First Nations and the Yukon government work together on implementing Bill S-6.

“Let’s be leaders in our own house and negotiate a bilateral accord on implementation that resolves those issues,” he said.

“That olive branch is a little bit late,” said Steve Smith, chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.

Yukon MP Ryan Leef asked Smith if First Nations would be happier to see Canada at that table, too.

Smith replied that the appropriate approach would be to remove the contentious amendments in Bill S-6 first, “then we can talk about a trilateral accord” to address the issues.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Yukon government was wrong in evicting youth from a group home, commissioner finds

The health department has roughly two months to respond to recommendations

Stephanie Dixon ready to dive into new role as chef de mission for 2019 Parapan American Games and 2020 Paralympic Games

“You do it because you believe in yourself and you have people around you that believe in you”

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World

Whitehorse becomes first community north of 60 to have private pot shop

Triple J’s Canna Space opens its doors to first customers

Whitehorse council news, briefly

Some of the news that came out of Whitehorse city council this week

Snowmobiles and snow bikes descend on Mount Sima for Yukon Yamaha Uphill Challenge

“I think everyone had their eyes opened on what could be done there”

Yukon Orienteering Association starts Coast Mountain Sports Sprint Series off in the right direction

The race on April 11 was the first of five sprint races planned for the spring

Yukon gymnasts stick the landing at inaugural B.C. Junior Olympic Compulsory Championships

Seven Polarettes earned five podium finishes at the two-day event in Langley, B.C.

École Émilie-Tremblay hosts first Yukon elementary school wrestling meet of 2019

“You can grab kids and you can trip and you can do that rough play, but there are rules”

Driving with Jens: Survey says….

If you’re like me, you probably feel inundated with surveys. It seems… Continue reading

Editorial: Promising electoral reform is the easy part

Details of what that would actually look like are much harder to come by

Yukonomist: The centre of the business universe moves 4,000 k.m. northwest

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business named Whitehorse Canada’s top place to start and grow a business

Whitehorse starts getting ready for Japanese students

This summer 13 Japanese students are slated to come north

Most Read