Oral comments not reflected in Peel report

The First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun wants to know what happened to the oral comments made during the most recent Peel consultation.

The First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun wants to know what happened to the oral comments made during the most recent Peel consultation.

Only written comments were quoted in the “What We Heard” report released last week, and only written comments were posted on the website.

“We come from an oral tradition, and when our elders made their way to the community open house in December, in minus-35 temperatures, they expected that their oral input would be included,” said Ed Champion, the First Nation’s chief. “So did many other NND citizens who got up to speak that evening.”

The open houses were not structured to accommodate oral submissions, according to the press release. “It took place in a small room with maps and displays but no chairs for elders or others to sit on, and no opportunities for people to share their views other than in writing.”

Oral comments were taken into consideration by the authors of the report, said government spokesperson Matthew Grant.

“During that process, when there were oral comments there were officials from the government as well as the author of the report who were present and taking notes. So that information was put in with the rest of the comments and taken into consideration when the author drafted the final report.”

People who wanted their comments online were directed to other methods of doing so, he said.

“They made reference to the Post-it notes that were in the room. They also made reference to email addresses. You could send stuff in by letter, phone, and that’s what happened there.”

The report also skews the number of people who participated in the consultation, according to the Nacho Nyak Dun.

The document recorded 37 visits to the Mayo open house, but more that 60 people gathered in total, according to the First Nation’s news release. The First Nation used a room next door for people to speak and gather, because the one rented by the government was not big enough.

“We were not happy with the way the public consultation was conducted, and I feel that our citizens did their best to participate in this important process,” said Champion. “It’s a huge disappointment for our people to see those efforts overlooked, and I am quite concerned about the cavalier manner in which the intergovernmental consultations will be approached in the near future.”

The government has yet to complete its consultation with First Nation governments, although March 25 had been set as a deadline.

The First Nation will not accept the report as complete until oral submissions are reflected, according to the release.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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