The Gwitch’in Tribal Council will participate in the lawsuit over the Yukon government’s handling of the Peel watershed land use plan as an intervenor, the First Nation announced this week.
The suit was launched by the Tr’ondek Hwech’in and the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun in January.
It alleges that the Yukon government broke its agreements with First Nations when it threw out the plan recommended by the planning commission in favour of one designed by Yukon’s bureaucrats.
The commission’s plan recommended 80 per cent of watershed be protected from new staking and roads. The government’s plan protects 29 per cent of the area from new staking, and none of it from new road construction.
The Inuvik-based Gwitch’in Tribal Council announced it would seek legal action in February. Until this week the council did not say what that action would be.
“We did an analysis of the legal options that we had,” said Norman Snowshoe, acting president of the council, in an interview Thursday.
“We believe that we have the same positions and we came in as an intervenor because of the similarities in our land claim agreements as to land use planning in the Yukon.”
It’s a shame that it has come to this, said Snowshoe.
“I’m very disappointed that it has come to going to the legal system to justify our rights that we established through the land claim agreements and our treaties. If this is the way that they’re going to solve land disputes and land management disputes, it’s going to be very expensive for the aboriginal people to participate in any meaningful relationships with the government.”