First Nations group and business need to work together, partnering rather than fighting in court, CYFN grand chief Andy Carvill told the Opportunities North conference last week.
“There are many court cases that didn’t need to happen,” said Carvill.
“I don’t speak for Kwanlin Dun; they are not a member of CYFN. But there’s been a recent announcement of a court case there — that doesn’t need to happen.”
Multiple court cases continue to drag on in Yukon courts involving Kwanlin Dun, Ta’an Kwach’an and Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nations.
“There’s a lot of First Nations that, unfortunately, have to go the legal route — that’s not the way we want to do things.”
Dual interests are something that should be worked out “at the table.”
“If we work together, we can overcome these obstacles and come out of it with a result that’s beneficial to all parties.”
First Nations are in business, not opposed to it, Carvill told the packed conference room of northern business leaders at the High Country Inn.
“CYFN and the members and chiefs I represent are not opposed to business, we want to do business — but we have to be involved,” said Carvill.
“Just picking up the phone and saying, ‘we’re coming to your traditional territory,’ those days are over,” he said.
Carvill outlined the current economic position of Yukon First Nations.
“Many First Nations, within the next couple of years, will become the single largest investors in the Yukon economy,” said Carvill.
He noted that Yukon First Nation investments went beyond the borders of the territory, reaching into assets throughout Canada.
“We are long-term investors … our people have been here for tens of thousands of years, and we plan on being here for many more millennia,” said Carvill.
“That will only happen with the proper planning and by working together,” he said.
“My advice to industry would be, right at the forefront, make sure that you involve First Nation governments.”
Carvill noted BC as a prime example of the business and developmental possibilities when First Nation and business work together.
“In British Columbia you see a lot more relationships being fostered and developed between industry and First Nation governments; it just makes sense,” he said.
Rural Yukon development hinges heavily upon honouring and respecting First Nation final agreements, said Yukon NDP candidate Ken Bolton during a recent all-candidates forum.
“We need governments at both the federal and territorial level that will take them seriously — that will, for example, respect the provisions that would allow First Nation development corporations to bid fairly on capital projects in their traditional territories,” said Bolton.