WRFN calls for staking ban

The White River First Nation is demanding an immediate staking ban in its traditional territory and is threatening legal action. The call comes in response to recent changes to mining legislation.

The White River First Nation is demanding an immediate staking ban in its traditional territory and is threatening legal action.

The call comes in response to recent changes to mining legislation.

A Yukon Court of Appeal decision from December 2012 ruled the government had a duty to consult with the Ross River Dena Council even for the lowest level of exploration activities.

The government dealt with the ruling through amendments to the Quartz Mining Act and Placer Mining Act and the associated regulations.

The amendments give the government the authority to designate areas of the Yukon where a notification for the low-level work is required.

Right now the government has used the new authority only to cover the Ross River area, which was the subject of the lawsuit.

The White River First Nation says there are “gaps” in the new legislation.

“The legislative response by Yukon does not meet the Yukon’s legal duty to consult with White River and any activity that takes place without proper consultation with White River First Nation will be subject to legal challenge. Like the Kaska Nation, WRFN holds unsurrendered aboriginal rights and title to our lands and have not signed any land claim agreement with Canada and Yukon,” the First Nation said in a statement.

Chief Charles Elkland Jr. said any changes in the Ross River area clearly apply to White River territory as well.

“The Ross River Dena Council case decision that found that ‘free entry’ mining system was a breach of aboriginal rights clearly applies to WRFN territory and is a call to action of the Pasloski government,” he said.

“As we stated last year, all staking must be suspended in our territory pending resolution of these matters. WRFN has asked for years for a true process to resolve issues with government to create certainty for all. To date, there has been no serious commitment to this from YG and the economy will continue to falter as a result with terrible uncertainty in investment.”

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