Aerial view of one of the proposed Coffee mine sites 130 km south of Dawson City on Sept. 11, 2018. The Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Vuntut Gwitchin governments are calling for a major overhaul of mining policy in a submission to the Yukon Mineral Development Strategy. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News file)

Northern First Nations call for a major overhaul of mining legislation

The Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Vuntut Gwitchin Governments say change is long overdue

The Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Vuntut Gwitchin governments are the latest to call for a major overhaul of mining policy in a submission to the Yukon Mineral Development Strategy.

“This is long overdue,” said Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Deputy Chief Simon Nagano, who added that the current outdated legislation is cumbersome for everyone involved.

“We’re not anti-mining. There’s a lot of First Nations families out there that work in the industry. We want to work with (First Nations), the miners, the Yukon government so that each party is happy. Finally, when the Yukon government can agree to have this completed it’ll be a benefit to all three,” he said.

In 2001 the Yukon government and all eleven self-governing Yukon First Nations agreed to work together on recommendations for new mining legislation to update the Placer Mining Act and the Quartz Mining Act. The process is still underway almost 20 years later.

The Yukon Mineral Development Strategy is currently accepting submissions from stakeholders in a public consultation phase, which ends on Aug. 31.

The 20-page document from the three northern First Nations calls for a “fundamental overhaul” and emphasizes the need for each First Nation to be able to protect their lands and uphold their own laws.

The submission calls for limitations on the existing “free entry system” that allows prospectors to explore for minerals on public lands. Ideally, engagement with First Nations should happen prior to staking, according to the document.

It also addresses the need for consultation and facilitation around benefit agreements and royalty sharing. There are also concerns about making sure development is compatible with environmental protection.

All three First Nations feel updated laws around mining are “desperately required.”

While COVID-19 pushed back the consultation deadline, the submission calls on the panel to move forward quickly with developing recommendations before the 2021 territorial elections.

“For too long, our people have tolerated Yukon Government’s failure to live up to the promise of our treaties,” said First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn, in a press release.

“We signed our Final Agreement more than 20 years ago, and mining continues in our territory as though nothing has changed. Our people are tired of waiting. We need new legislation and we need the commitment to land use planning to be fulfilled. In the interim, our lands must be protected,” he said.

In the same release, Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm said the new laws should be similar to what was achieved with the Yukon’s Oil and Gas Act, which was reformed in 2015.

“Vuntut Gwitchin Government stands in solidarity with the Northern Nations and recognizes the importance of modern legislation, co-drafted with First Nations,” he said. “The vision and contribution of First Nations to resource management is paramount, and deserves to be acknowledged. “

Other groups that have made submissions so far include Carcross/Tagish First Nation, multiple conservation groups, the Yukon Prospectors Association, Yukon Outfitters Association, Yukon Heritage Resources Board and the president of CMC Metals.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

mining

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

Just Posted

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, electionsyukon.ca has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

Yukon NDP leader Kate White, surrounded by socially distanced candidates, announces her platform in Whitehorse on March 29. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Kate White and the Yukon NDP Platform

A detailed look at the NDP platform and Kate White’s leadership campaign this election

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Sandy Silver announces the territorial election in Whitehorse. Silver is seeking a second term as premier and third term as Klondike MLA. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Getting to know Sandy Silver and the Yukon Liberal platform

Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is vying for a second term as… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media in Whitehorse on October 30, 2020. Hanley is now encouraging Yukon to continue following health regulations, noting it could still be some time before changes to restrictions are made. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
No active COVID cases in Yukon

Hanley highlights concerns over variants, encourages vaccinations

Most Read