RRDC appeal against 2017 Yukon Supreme Court decision dismissed

The Yukon Court of Appeal has dismissed Ross River Dena Council’s (RRDC) appeal of a 2017 Yukon Supreme Court decision on Canada’s duty to negotiate with the First Nation.

Ruling on a lawsuit filed by RRDC against the Attorney General of Canada, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower found in July 2017 that while historic documents obliged Canada to negotiate with “pre-existing Aboriginal societies” and that Canada had failed to do so from at least 1969 to 1973, Canada’s modern-day negotiations with RRDC made up for that breach.

He declined to make several declarations requested by RRDC related to compensation and halting development on RRDC and Kaska traditional territory until a settlement is reached.

RRDC filed an appeal in November 2017, claiming that Gower erred on two grounds, including that Gower wrongly determined the Crown’s historic breach of obligation to negotiate land claims with Kaska Nation was “ameliorated” by modern good-faith negotiations.

In a decision released Feb. 19, Yukon Court of Appeal justices John Savage, Shannon Smallwood and Barbara Fisher dismissed the appeal, finding that Gower had not erred.

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