Frustrated First Nations demand true consultation

In the past week, two First Nations have come forward with complaints about governmental aversion to consultation.

In the past week, two First Nations have come forward with complaints about governmental aversion to consultation.

Friday the White River First Nation released a statement saying that it had not been meaningfully consulted on the proposed Alaska Highway Pipeline Project.

The statement echoes a release from the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation last week.

The White River First Nation was responding to the call for proposals under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.

The proposed pipeline would begin in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and follow the Alaska Highway through the Yukon to Alberta.

Approximately 760 kilometres of pipeline would run through the Yukon.

Twenty per cent of the Yukon portion of the pipeline runs through White River traditional territory.

The White River First Nation has not signed land claims or self government agreements.

“Our door has always been open to fair and equitable negotiations,” the First Nation said in a release.

“But Canada has ignored our requests for negotiating a meaningful consultation protocol.”

The Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation is also tired of “courtesy consultations” with the Yukon government.

On August 17, that First Nation announced that it would suspend all regulatory dialogue with respect to Keno Hill Mines “until suitable consultation and accommodation can be arranged with other governments.”

“Governments have excluded us from any meaningful dialogue,” said Chief Simon Mervyn in a press release.

“They only paid lip service to our rights while the government eagerly co-operates with Alexco in furthering its objectives.”

The First Nation declined further comment until they received a reply from government.

Elsa Reclamation and Development Company, a subsidiary of Alexco Resources Corporation, bought the mine in June 2005.

“Alexco appreciates and sympathizes with the historic grievances of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation,” Alexco said in their own release.

In March Alexco and the First Nation signed a memorandum of understanding, which provides for co-operation and support of any future development in the Keno Hill Silver District.

Alexco stressed in their release that the First Nation’s frustrations were caused solely by the territorial government.

However, it reflected badly on Alexco, by association.

The corporation’s stock price took a hit after the First Nation’s announcement.

“It’s certainly unfortunate that things have deteriorated to this level,” said Yukon Liberal Party leader Arthur Mitchell.

“It hurts business and the economy. The government needs to stick to the agreements and consult with First Nations.”

Premier Dennis Fentie did not respond to interview requests.

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