(Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Kaska Dena Council not a rights-bearing group, YG argues in hunting consultation lawsuit

KDC says the Yukon government has the duty to consult before issuing hunting licences for Kaska traditional territory

The Kaska Dena Council (KDC) has not proven it holds the right, or that it represents any group that holds the right, to be consulted on the issuance of hunting licences and tags in the southern portion of the territory, the Yukon government argued in court July 13 and July 16.

Yukon government lawyer Elaine Cairns made those submissions during the ongoing trial for a lawsuit the KDC launched against the territorial government in January 2017.

In its statement of claim, and in submissions KDC lawyer Claire Anderson made on the first day of the trial July 11, KDC says that, as a group whose members are Kaska people, the Yukon government has a duty to consult with it before issuing hunting licences and tags for traditional Kaska territory in the Yukon excluding the Ross River area.

The Yukon government denies the duty to consult with the KDC exists.

Liard First Nation (LFN) joined the legal tussle in September 2017 as a defendant, agreeing that KDC was not owed consultation and filing a counterclaim that LFN is.

KDC is not a First Nation, but a society incorporated in Lower Post, B.C. Its membership is comprised of Kaska residing in both British Columbia and the Yukon who apply to be members or who were signed up by proxy. In the past, KDC has also represented Daylu Dena Council, Dease River First Nation and Kwadacha Nation.

Anderson argued last week that the Yukon government has long recognized the legitimacy of KDC and the acknowledged Aboriginal title of its members, including the KDC as a party in discussions, consultations and even signing a mineral agreement with KDC in 2016. That agreement acknowledged title means that Kaska represented by KDC have the right to exclusive use and occupation of the southern portion of Kaska traditional territory in the Yukon, Anderson said. Therefore, Anderson said, the Yukon government has a constitutional duty to consult with KDC, and accommodate it where necessary, before issuing hunting permits and tags.

In her submissions, however, Cairns said that KDC is not a communal rights-bearing group like a First Nation, but rather, is a collection of individuals from different bands who joined KDC for different reasons. Over the years, the KDC has had a shifting definition of who it represents, Cairns argued, ranging from all Kaska Dene to the three B.C. Kaska First Nations to, in this action, its members.

Although KDC can act on behalf of rights-bearing groups, as it’s done in the past, Cairns argued that it can only do so with authorization and, in this case, has provided “no evidence” of having received any. She also said that previous agreements the Yukon government has signed with the KDC only show that, at that time, the KDC was acting as a Kaska representative, and that the agreements don’t amount to a recognition of Aboriginal title.

Cairns argued that the KDC’s lawsuit is not really about the duty to consult, but about Aboriginal title, and, “in our submission, this is not an appropriate venue for that.”

The Yukon government, which is also being represented by lawyer Marlaine Anderson-Lindsay, was expected to continue its submissions Monday afternoon. The trial is expected to continue into Tuesday.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Skagway Brewing Co. doubles seating, quadruples production

The new location is on Fourth Avenue, between the hardware store and the Starfire Thai restaurant

Leaders raise expectations for federal election at Yukon Forum

‘We really need to be respectful of the progress that we have made in a short period of time’

New procurement policy set to be up and running this spring

The last major procurement overhaul occurred in 1995, Mostyn said

Yukon hospital workers reach tentative deal to avoid a strike

The proposal will be voted on March 4, the union says

Longtime Yukon lawyer, former federal NDP candidate Melissa Atkinson dead at 45

Atkinson, who served as the territory’s first Indigenous Crown attorney, died the morning of Feb. 14.

German rookie wins 2019 Yukon Quest red lantern

Hendrik Stachnau was the last musher to cross the finish line

Hospital workers are prepared to strike

‘They’ve had enough’

Whitehorse mayor calls tax and fee increases reasonable

Council approved the 2019 operations budget

Team Yukon attends pep rally before heading off to Canada Winter Games

The Games are taking place in Red Deer, Alta., from Feb. 15 to March 3.

This year’s Sima Cup medals were delicious

A local bakery provided the prizes

Mushers of all sizes come out for the Babe Southwick Memorial Sled Dog Races

As the leading Yukon Quest mushers were nearing the finish of their… Continue reading

History Hunter: Mining on Dublin Gulch has a long history

A new gold mine is being developed north of Mayo that will… Continue reading

Yukonomist: Yukon carbon tax decisions

With the carbon tax coming into effect on July 1, you now… Continue reading

Most Read