White River signs co operation agreement with miners

The White River First Nation and the Kaminak Gold Corp. have agreed to co-operate as the Coffee Gold project advances through the exploration phase of development.

The White River First Nation and the Kaminak Gold Corp. have agreed to co-operate as the Coffee Gold project advances through the exploration phase of development.

The Coffee Gold project is located in 130 kilometres south of Dawson City and falls in the traditional territory of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in and the White River First Nation. A portion of the project falls within Selkirk First Nation as well.

Kaminak reached out to the White River First Nation last year, said Allison Armstrong, the company’s director of lands and environment.

“We just took some time to get to know each other and find out a little bit about the First Nation, and give the First Nation an opportunity to get to know Kaminak.”

The substance of the agreement outlines how the First Nation and the company will communicate with each other about the project, said Armstrong. It also allows for employment, training and business opportunities for members of the First Nation.

“White River First Nation is pleased that we’re able to work with Kaminak, and we appreciate their co-operation,” said Angela Demit, acting chief of the First Nation, in an interview this week.

“Some of the areas that I’m speaking about, where Kaminak is located, is where my family and relatives lived, as did other White River First Nation members over many generations, and it is an area shared by other First Nations also.”

The White River First Nation went to Yukon Supreme Court in 2012 to protest the Yukon government’s decision to give a Class 3 exploration permit to Tarsis Resources Inc., an unrelated company, for its White River property.

The First Nation argued that it had not been properly consulted, and the court agreed. The permit was overturned.

This new agreement with Kaminak could help prevent a similar conflict down the road.

“It’s a really great foundation for our relationship moving forward,” said Armstrong.

The agreement will bring benefits to the First Nation, said Demit.

“It will benefit all our membership, and that is what our elders desire, because this area was used by them before the next generation came along.”

The company signed a similar co-operation agreement with Tr’ondek Hwech’in last year.

“We’re excited about our project, and we’re excited about the work that we’re doing with the First Nations, and we’re looking forward to continued success with our collaborative studies and building on the relationships that we’ve established so far,” said Armstrong.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

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