The Yukon government and First Nations have come up with a plan they say will help them work on common issues, including fiscal relationships, the implementation of self-government agreements and health and justice concerns.
The joint plan was presented after the Yukon Forum on Sept. 29 in Champagne.
Peter Johnston, Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, said he believes the plan is “pivotal” to helping the sides work together.
“If it wasn’t agreed upon by leadership, really, at the end of the day I think the forum would have probably dissolved,” he said, “because we’ve been in this process for many years…but I feel really optimistic that we are moving ahead in the right direction.”
In broad strokes, the 11-page document lays out timelines for discussions about budgets, First Nations representation in the Yukon government, land use planning, fiscal relationships and health and justice priorities, among other things.
By the end of this month the governments have promised to initiate discussions about resource revenue sharing agreements between the Yukon government and self-governing First Nations and address “potential changes to the Yukon’s resource royalty regime,” the plan says.
A progress report on the discussions around the Umbrella Final Agreement chapter on resource revenue sharing has been promised for the December meeting of the Yukon Forum.
There’s also plans to start up an infrastructure working group this month that will looking at federal infrastructure funding, including money for housing, and “identify options for flowing infrastructure funding to self-governing Yukon First Nations.”
The governments also plan to start an analysis of programs that are meant to increase the representation of Aboriginal people in the Yukon government to a level proportional to the territory’s Indigenous population.
As for the Yukon territorial budget, the plan is to “determine timing, process and venue for Yukon First Nation’s to articulate their budget priorities” by May or June of next year.
The document also sets dates for coming up with joint priorities in health, education and justice.
Johnston said the plan will lead to the formation of working groups to tackle individual topics in more detail.
Yukon Premier Sandy Silver said he expects the plan to become more comprehensive as time goes on.
“These plans, these documents, they’re not worth the paper that they’re signed on unless they’re living, breathing documents,” he said.
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