From the Inside Out: Forestry bill is a many splintered thing

Dear Uma: I was sorry to hear about Jason losing his job; he’d be feeling quite crushed, this young man who has known nothing but success in…

Dear Uma:

I was sorry to hear about Jason losing his job; he’d be feeling quite crushed, this young man who has known nothing but success in his every endeavour. He is, as you said, a resilient sort of kid; he’ll be bouncing back into another job when he is ready.

The vacation in Hawaii will undoubtedly assist in his healing. Remedies for wounds suffered by the privileged class are so elegant; somebody losing their job on the line of an automobile manufacturer, for instance, might have to settle for a drunken night in a neighbourhood pub rather than mai tais on a tropical beach.

It was an unanticipated turn of events. I understand, the company he worked for going out of business, in keeping with the changes sweeping the USA these troubled days.

The election of Obama was a grand thing, I thought, a strong indication of a shift in thinking for Americans that can only bode well for the future. The feeling of hope engendered by the election was felt all over the world.

I wish the election we suffered through could have been even half so interesting, or held any promise of change, hope or drama.

It is going to be interesting to see how and where Obama will lead the USA; what happens there will affect everyone, everywhere.

Meanwhile, according to the CBC National News, Canada is in a recession. How are we to recognize that, I wonder; everything seems to be going on much as before. The cost of everything creeps up almost daily, but that’s been going on long enough to have become normal.

What is the clear indication of a recession? Is the normalization of things like the price increase of every single thing we purchase the unmistakable sign?

The looming threat of economic collapse has not yet led to my feeling frightened, not in any concrete way. There do occur those sudden middle-of-the-night realizations of the fragility of life and all the things that can end it, but doesn’t everyone have those regardless of the state of the country?

Since moving here, I have found those moments of realization of the fragility of life and all the things that can end it are instantly soothed simply by going outdoors. The wilderness is all around, as it has been for millennia, the rhythms of life primeval, unadorned and untrammeled, found in my own heartbeat. Accessing that connection has been one of the more significant things to have happened to me, and the Yukon bush has been the scene of this discovery.

That is why, when I read the article in the Yukon News about the Liard First Nation’s challenge of the forestry bill, I found myself applauding.

Hands sore from clapping, I thought it might be time to see what I could find out about said forestry bill. My reaction to most newspaper headlines tends to be instinctive and though I have learned to trust that reaction, a sip from the fount of knowledge, while a dangerous thing according to Pope, will make this letter more understandable for you and others with whom I share the ceaseless commenting of my restless mind.

My understanding of the forestry bill, from reading and from talking with various people who have been involved with it from the beginning, is that it is a deeply flawed piece of work. It has been described as a licence to cut trees and not much else.

It is an act that will allow the resources minister to overrule forest management plans which do not yet exist.

The very idea of a “kick start” for a forestry industry in the territory without first having a comprehensive management plan for all land use is too ludicrous to be countenanced; this is what YTG hopes to accomplish with this bill.

It is a comfort to think the Liard First Nation will not allow this careless attitude towards the land to become law. Or, should it become law, they are not prepared to abide by such a decree.

The Liard First Nation have already illustrated their belief in their rights to a land they have occupied for thousands of years when they built the Two Mile Lake Gathering Place without going through the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board.

I have mentioned the assessment board to you before; its mandate is to assess each land-use application and make recommendations regarding these applications. I have heard it described as a toothless, expensive sop to the public to make them believe their individual applications for land use will be a streamlined process and the corporation applications for land use will be thoroughly assessed, thus allowing us all to rest easy in the certain knowledge the wilderness and all its inhabitants are being cherished and protected for future generations.

Well, this thing just ain’t on all fours, it seems. While many an individual application has been denied, that has not been the fate of any corporate applications.

There have been strong recommendations against some of the corporate plans that have been ignored.

Corporations, those ingenious devices for obtaining profit without individual responsibility, would seem to share some qualities with government, which would explain why they appear to work so well together.

If there has been any action, any response at all, to the un-permitted construction of the Two Mile Lake facility, I have not heard of it.

I myself have no problem with the Kaska use of their land to create a gathering place, but I am curious as to why the Yukon government has not reacted to what would seem to be a flagrant disregard of their land-use laws.

Back to the forestry bill and Liard First Nation: Chief Liard McMillan has indicated the Kaska are prepared to go to court if they must in order to protect the forest from the potential devastation the forestry bill would allow.

The issue, once again, is lack of consultation. The Yukon government seems to not recognize the implications of the Kaska status as a people who have never settled land claims. They have never signed treaties, nor have they been put on reserves. They did not ratify the Umbrella Final Agreement. They claim unsurrendered rights to their traditional land.

The Yukon government’s dealings with First Nations appears too often to have a patronizing flavour, while the premier is quick to demonstrate his favourite stance of “better to fight than win.”

It all holds the promise of much to interest us during the winter, and I shall be resting easy in my bed knowing the Liard First Nation has drawn the line in the lichen to protect the boreal forest and all its creatures, including our own troublesome species.

Love,

Heather

Heather Bennett is a writer

who lives in Watson Lake.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Team Togo member Katie Moen sits in a sled behind a snowmobile for the ride from the airport to Chief Zzeh Gittlit School. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Coming together: How Old Crow became one of the first communities in the world to be fully vaccinated

Team Togo and Team Balto assembled with a mission to not waste a single dose of vaccine

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. If council moves forward with bylaw changes, eating and drinking establishments could set up pop-up patios in on-street parking spaces. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Patios may be popping up in Whitehorse this summer

City considers program for downtown restaurants and bars

The Yukon Coroner's Service has confirmed the death of a skateboarder found injured on Hamilton Boulevard on May 2. Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News
Whitehorse man dies in skateboarding accident

Coroner urges the use of helmets, protective gear, while skateboarding.

The new Yukon Liberal caucus poses for a photo during the swearing-in ceremony held on May 3. (Yukon Government/Submitted)
Liberal cabinet sworn in at legislature before house resumes on May 11

Newly elected MLA Jeremy Harper has been nominated as speaker.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s baby bison, born April 22, mingles with the herd on April 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukon Wildlife Preserves welcomes two bison calves

A bison calf was the first 2021 baby born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

A map provided by the Yukon government shows the location of unpermitted logging leading to a $2,500 fine. (Courtesy/Yukon government)
Man fined $2,500 for felling trees near Beaver Creek

The incident was investigated by natural resource officers and brought to court.

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Most Read