Peel takes backseat at chiefs, premier meeting

Less than two weeks after Yukon chiefs responded to the government's Peel watershed position with a legal notice, it was surprising to hear the issue didn't take centre stage when the chiefs met with Premier Darrell Paslosk

Less than two weeks after Yukon chiefs responded to the government’s Peel watershed position with a legal notice, it was surprising to hear the issue didn’t take centre stage when the chiefs met with Premier Darrell Pasloski in Whitehorse Tuesday.

Although the meeting was held behind closed doors, Pasloski told reporters afterwards the Peel was not discussed. He refused to comment on the legal notice.

When asked who instigated the meeting, he said he couldn’t remember.

“I’m not sure which way it was,” said Pasloski. “But we’re moving forward with resource revenues and so that’s what the context of this was about.”

Yukon First Nations have asked for a seat at the table when Ottawa and the territory negotiate a new resource royalty sharing agreement.

So far, the response from Ottawa has been to let the territory deal with it while Pasloski’s office has simply refused the request, said Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Ruth Massie after the meeting with the premier.

“Because a lot of the resources are coming out of our traditional territories, we expect a share of the pie,” said Massie.

“Right now Canada is talking to Yukon and Yukon’s talking to Canada, excluding Yukon First Nations. We need to share in the responsibility of governance in this territory. We need to be equal.

“We really think that it’s a win-win scenario for all of us if we work together and come up with a solution for the whole territory, which includes First Nations.”

The more revenue coming into the territory from resources, the more the gap grows between First Nation and non-First Nation communities, said Massie.

The wealth generated from mining and other resource development should be shared equally by all communities, she said.

The chiefs gave Pasloski a deadline of March 9 to respond to their requests, which include an amendment to a section of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

The section presents a formula that calculates how the Yukon should share royalties with self-governing First Nations. Currently, it offers a cap of “50 per cent of the first two million” in any difference between royalties received by the territory and the First Nations from development on their settlement lands.

The chiefs are requesting that this cap be removed.

Pasloski’s only response to the issue was that this meeting allowed him to provide an update on how the discussions with Ottawa are going.

“We were talking about the process and responsibilities,” he said. “We’ve been consulting with First Nations throughout this process. It started back in the summer of 2010. So this was part of that process and the officials will continue to do their work.”

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com