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This week’s mailbox: Support for Bill 306 and walking the talk on climate

Response to Bruce Bark

Response to Bruce Bark

I was saddened to read the recent letter in the Yukon News by Bruce Bark (“Walking the talk on retrofitting” Yukon News, Oct. 28). I know Bruce, and in conversation, I too have been called “hypocritical” and “not walking the talk”.

Name calling may satisfy Bruces’ need to quell his own anger and frustration or feed into his personal conspiracy theories. There are, however, many stages of environmental awareness and choices and changes that each individual has to to make on this journey. Whether you are learning to switch off all the lights in your house, or researching or saving or considering buying an EV for your next vehicle, or thinking about a plan to incorporate a solar panel into your present fossil fuel heating system, or considering eating less meat in your diet, these changes do not happen overnight.

Climate change and global warming is happening, whether you choose to refute or deny the numerous studies, or whether you just don’t care and say “So what if the planet is warming”. Human behaviours, including our addiction to fossil fuel and plastic, are contributing to the effects of climate change, with the devastating effects of loss of habitats and ecosystems, extinction of animals and plants, and enormous toll on human life. How we choose to reduce our carbon footprint, whether one less flight a year or fewer vehicle trips into town, fewer rides on your snowmobile or 4-wheeler, or switching to a plant based diet are individual choices on this journey.

I find it sad to see someone sit on the sideline, and look into someones “backyard” and think they know how to walk in that persons shoes, what environmental or personal decisions that person may be trying to make, and criticize or name call that person who is trying to help decrease a communities environmental impact.

I salute Minister John Streicker for trying to help individual households or businesses incorporate greener choices into their building options.

Speak up for environmental change, learn from others through conversation and debate, do your part, and be kind.

Joanne Devenish

Support for Bill 306

Yukoners Concerned fully supports the private member’s bill, Bill No. 306 - An Act to Amend the Oil and Gas Act (2022) - introduced in the legislature by the NDP on Oct. 26.

If passed, this bill would reinstate section 13 (1) of the Oil and Gas Act, which would not allow the issuance of oil and gas depositions and licensing without the consent of a First Nation that had not concluded a signed land claims agreement. This pertains to the interests of only three First Nations in Yukon since the other 11 have concluded land claims agreements and signed the Umbrella Final Agreement.

Why is this bill necessary?

In the first instance, it pertains to legislation enacted by the Yukon Party government in 2012 when negotiations between the government and the affected First Nations (the Kaska) were not successful.

Eager to facilitate oil and gas development in Southeast Yukon, the Yukon Party government repealed section 13, removing the obligation to obtain First Nations consent.

This legislation had been in place since the 1990s and served to protect unsettled lands from development without the consent of the affected First Nations. In the words of NDP Leader Kate White, “When the Yukon Party unilaterally repealed section 13 in 2012, they repealed more than a section of law; they disregarded historic negotiations, a signed agreement, and a commitment that had been made in good faith with Yukon First Nations.”

It is time to correct that historic wrong.

Secondly, when the federal government adopted the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples it recognized the right of First Nations “to free, prior and informed consent”, a principle that accords with a reinstated section 13 (1). As Ross River Dena Council wrote to the NDP, “The reinstating of this clause…[would be]…a demonstration that YG is committed to advancing reconciliation and the principles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Yukoners Concerned recognizes the necessities of reconciliation with First Nations, the obligation to obtain the consent of First Nations for development to occur, and the concerns of First Nations about maintaining the quality of water. Restoring section 13 (1) would continue the building of a positive relationship with First Nations.

We urge all parties in the Yukon legislature, and all Yukoners, to support Bill 306.

Rick Griffiths

Yukoners Concerned