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CYFN joins Little Salmon case

The Council of Yukon First Nations is stepping in to support Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation.CYFN will seek intervener status, which will allow…

The Council of Yukon First Nations is stepping in to support Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation.

CYFN will seek intervener status, which will allow it to make submissions to the appeal court in the First Nation’s case against the Yukon government.

“We would probably speak in support of their application,” said council lawyer Daryn Leas.

And CYFN would bring up broader issues such as how land-claim and self-government agreements are handled.

No new issues or evidence can be called in appeal court.

Last month Yukon Supreme Court found that government did not properly consult the First Nation before approving a 65-hectare agricultural lease in its traditional territory.

“There must be a dialogue on a government-to-government basis and not simply a courtesy consultation,” Justice Ron Veale wrote in a 44-page judgment.

Veale also quashed the 2004 Yukon government decision, which granted Larry Paulsen access to the land.

During a hearing in February, Crown lawyers argued the government had no duty to consult the First Nation because it was not spelled out in Little Salmon/Carmacks’ final or self-government agreements.

And, the government decided to appeal Veale’s judgment earlier this month.

“We believe that the agreements are living breathing documents,” said CYFN grand chief Andy Carvill on Tuesday.

“They’re not something that was finished and there is no more discussion.”

If the government’s appeal is successful, it could affect First Nations across Canada, said Carvill.

And it could act as a disincentive for other First Nations across the country in signing their own land-claim and self-governing agreements.

Carvill is asking the government to back down on its decision to appeal the case and come to the table to resolve the matter outside the courtroom.

“If the government would consider dropping the appeal we’d be more than willing to sit down instead of having the courts continue to define what rights we have and what rights governments have,” he said.

Carvill is also seeking support from federal department of Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jim Prentice.

“There are relationships that we’re hoping to move forward on,” said Carvill.

For example, in the fall the council planned to meet with federal and territorial leaders to talk about building a sustainable economy in the North.

“I don’t know if we’re going to be so willing to go there if this is how we’re going to be treated by other governments.”

Contact Leighann