The Yukon Supreme Court has dismissed an application by the Ross River Dena Council seeking declarations relatedto the Yukon government’s issuance of hunting licences and seals in the First Nation’s traditional territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon Supreme Court dismisses RRDC case on hunting licences and seals

Justice Ron Veale found that there was no reason to make any of RRDC’s requested declarations.

The Yukon Supreme Court has dismissed an application by the Ross River Dena Council (RRDC) seeking declarations related to the Yukon government’s issuance of hunting licences and seals in the First Nation’s traditional territory.

Justice Ron Veale’s decision was released May 28.

RRDC had been seeking three declarations from the court — that the Yukon’s issuance of hunting licences and seals might adversely affect the Aboriginal title of RRDC members; that the Yukon government has a duty to consult with and, where indicated, accommodate the RRDC before issuing hunting licences and seals in the Ross River area; and that, from the 2016-17 to 2018-19 hunting seasons, the Yukon government had failed to do so.

The Yukon government opposed the application.

In his 17-page ruling, Veale wrote that there was no reason to give any of the declarations as they were matters that have either already been settled or concerned things the Yukon government was already doing.

There is no dispute that the Yukon government issuing hunting licences and seals might adversely affect RRDC’s “asserted Aboriginal claim to title,” Veale wrote, something that was settled in another of RRDC’s legal actions concerning wildlife from 2015.

The “real issue” in this case though, Veale wrote, was the question of asserted title versus established Aboriginal title, and whether RRDC, with the former, is entitled to the ownership rights of a First Nation with the latter.

“In my view, RRDC is at the claim stage of asserting Aboriginal title. It is not at the final resolution or shortly before the establishment of Aboriginal title,” Veale wrote.

As such, while the Yukon must consult with RRDC and accommodate it where appropriate, RRDC “does not have a right to veto any development or impose a duty to agree or require that RRDC consents to any developments in the Ross River Area,” the decision says.

Veale also noted that the Yukon government has acknowledged that it has a duty to consult with RRDC on wildlife management issues, and that “deep consultation” is required.

(Previous decisions on similar legal applications have found that the Yukon government has a duty to consult, but has not established the scope of the consultation.)

The Yukon government had not violated that duty, Veale found, and there has, in fact, been “extensive” and “deep consultation” on wildlife management issues that have resulted in “significant accommodation between Yukon and RRDC.”

“I find that Yukon has consulted extensively with RRDC representatives through sharing harvest results, the population surveys, and discussing wildlife management issues,” Veale wrote, noting that the Yukon government has gone as far as suspending hunting on the Finlayson caribou herd after RRDC raised concerns about the herd’s population.

Veale added that it was “not practical nor appropriate to make every holder of a licence and seal in Yukon subject to a duty to consult RRDC prior to issuance.”

In dismissing the application, Veale wrote that both the Yukon government and RRDC “have been engaged in consultation and will hopefully continue to do so as they both share a mutual interest in preserving wildlife populations.”

RRDC Chief Jack Caesar and lawyer Stephen Walsh declined to comment on the outcome May 28, saying they needed more time to thoroughly review the decision.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Yukon courts

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fourth person recovers from COVID-19

No new cases in the territory.

Wyatt’s World

John Hopkins-Hill News Reporter… Continue reading

New measures make previous COVID-19 orders enforceable

Violators could face a fine, up to six months in jail or both

Owner of Whitehorse home targeted in police raid wants more communication between cops, landlords

Marie-Pierre Leblanc Demers is the owner of 5051 Fifth Ave. in downtown Whitehorse

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World

Carcross/Tagish First Nation postpones general election

Carcross/Tagish First Nation has postponed its general election for chief until further… Continue reading

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in postpones election of chief

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in has postponed its election for chief after all three candidates… Continue reading

Organizers continue to plan for Reckless Raven

Significant changes or eventual cancellation not ruled out

City readies for another food truck season

Physical distance will be encouraged

Comprehensive Review of HSS report extended 30 days

The Yukon government has given the independent expert panel, charged with the… Continue reading

Yukon government announces supports for businesses forced to cancel events, clarifies precautions for mining industry

Temporary funding program passed to help businesses and NGOs who lost money on cancelled events.

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week. Formalizing… Continue reading

Air North not informed by officials of COVID-19 case, president says

Joe Sparling says Air North learned via social media that passenger on flight had COVID-19

Most Read