I find it difficult to understand why Chief Liard McMillan of the Liard First Nation is attempting to hold up current efforts by Selwyn Resources to develop a major mine potential at Howard’s Pass, located well north of Watson Lake.
It has often been suggested land claims are mostly “white men talking to white men about Indians.”
If this turns out to be the case, participating governments and lawyers must begin to introduce the word “no” into land claim discussions whenever it is appropriate to do so.
In the interest of justice, and to preserve the rights of both parties, the principals of equality, fairness and responsibility must always be an essential component of these important negotiations, ensuring the interests of concerned band members and the public-at-large are absolutely protected.
There should be no room for favouritism or corrupt motivation of any kind.
McMillan has recently publicly declared he has absolutely no intention, whatsoever, of negotiating land claims on behalf of his people, leaving an impression he would much prefer to continue milking the federal cash cow as long as possible.
McMillan and his family are closely involved with an exciting new Northern Tiger Resources gold deposit, also situated in a region well north of Watson Lake along the Nahanni Range Road. What is fair for the goose is fair for the gander.
If he is really sincere in his desire to provide rewards for his people, in the interests of equality he should also be offering his band similar benefits from the Northern Tiger Resources development.
Any hesitation or refusal to do so would only raise two obvious questions. Has he fully discussed this matter with his people beforehand? And, if so, are his intentions designed to physically participate with Selwyn Resources in some practical way, or are they only in the interests of financial gain?
It is now time for politicians and governments alike to ensure that, other than existing agreed-upon committed financial obligations, there should be no further tax money made available to the band until there is a signed commitment from them to participate in an early and binding land claim settlement with Canada.
In the interim, it is incumbent upon both parties to ensure development of Yukon resources will equally benefit all people of Canada, without exception, unless otherwise provided for by parliamentary decree or appropriate legislation.
Only time will tell if Ottawa has the guts and fortitude to finally say “no” for a change!
Donald E. Taylor