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Chief Simon Mervyn and Chief Roberta Joseph

Plan doesn’t respect our interests: First Nations

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun are expressing strongly-worded “disappointment and discouragement” with the Yukon government’s policy for managing wetlands.

By Whitehorse Star on January 18, 2023

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun are expressing strongly-worded “disappointment and discouragement” with the Yukon government’s policy for managing wetlands.

They say the policy, released Jan. 10 after five years in the making, should be rescinded and revamped in discussions with First Nations communities.

They added it fails to address First Nations’ concerns, with the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun saying their concerns have been virtually “ignored.”

The traditional territories of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in in the Dawson City region and Na-Cho Nyäk Dun in the Mayo area are home to some of the most vulnerable and rare wetland types in the Yukon, the First Nations said in a statement released Tuesday.

“Despite their rarity and significance, these sensitive habitats are under constant threat from destruction. In many areas, such as the Indian River Valley, important wetland classes are already at risk of extinction, having faced relentless and unfettered devastation from mining over the last several decades.

“Once peatlands like bogs and fens are destroyed, these important landscapes will not return.”

The government plans to create a new land designation for “wetlands of special importance,” but the policy states such activity as mineral staking, exploration and mining with these areas isn’t necessarily off-limits.

Wetlands perform many critical ecological functions, the First Nations pointed out.

They purify freshwater, store carbon, control flooding and provide habitat for a wide range of wildlife, fish, and plants.

Wetlands also support cultural uses and activities such as hunting, trapping and fishing.

The policy for the stewardship of wetlands acknowledges those important benefits, the First Nations said, “yet fails to expeditiously protect these important ecosystems.

“Yukon Government’s policy for the stewardship of wetlands has not applied a protection first approach to wetlands.

“Instead, while acknowledging that there exists a minimal understanding of benefits, location, type, and extent of wetlands across the Yukon, this policy allows for continued development of all wetland classes and offers minimal guidance as to when and how impacts can be avoided and/or mitigated.

“The protection mechanisms that are offered remain administratively burdensome, and the process lacks effective protective measures for wetlands of special importance.”

The impact of a changing climate on wetlands, and the significant role these ecosystems will play in humanity’s race against time to prevent or limit catastrophic harm from climate change, is of particular concern, the First Nations said.

Peatlands remain a major carbon storehouse, holding carbon that has accumulated over thousands of years, they pointed out.

“The destruction of carbon-rich peatlands, allowed under this policy, will release significant amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, further undermining our collective ability to fight climate change.

“The cumulative loss of these important ecosystems, and the impacts this is having on our culture and our Final Agreement rights, cannot be overstated.

“The alteration and dramatic changes that occur to the landscape once wetlands have been mined alienates our citizens from our own land and interferes with our ability to exercise treaty rights for hunting, fishing, and enjoying other spiritual and cultural activities.”

Indigenous culture is passed down onto future generations through these activities, they pointed out, “and as we are further removed from the land, we are further removed from our culture.

“If we are unable to perform traditional activities that rely on the undisturbed, natural existence of wetlands, our culture and our identity may be lost forever. This is in breach of our treaty with the Crown.

“As such, we urge Yukon Government to reconsider their policy and to work with Yukon First Nations to jointly develop, and approve, a policy for wetlands that we can all support.”

The First Nations are urging the government “to respect and uphold our constitutionally protected Final Agreement rights, and to honour our deeply rooted and ancestral responsibility to protect these rare and critical ecosystems by enacting proactive, protective and effective measures now, not later.”

Chief Simon Mervyn of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun called the wetlands policy “unacceptable, and our First Nation rejects it.

“The policy was developed unilaterally by public government. The deep concerns expressed by Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were almost entirely ignored.

“Our comments at the Yukon Water Board hearing fell on deaf ears,” Mervyn said.

“The rights to water enshrined in Chapter 14 of our modern treaty are being eroded. This continues a pattern of Yukon First Nations being treated – at best – as stakeholders on our own lands and in our own territories.

“This policy is inconsistent with a respectful, government-to-government relationship among the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, and the Governments of Canada and Yukon,” the chief added.

“We call on Yukon Government to rescind the policy and to return to the table with a commitment to truly co-developing a new wetlands policy that respects our treaty rights and protects the waters and wetlands of our territory for our future generations.”

Despite multiple years of engagement with the government on the policy’s objectives and direction of this policy, said Chief Roberta Joseph of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, “we have not been heard.

“We have always advocated for a protections-first approach, acknowledging the rarity and significance of these important ecosystems on the land.

“We have also always asked that our role as managers of resources within our traditional territory be emphasized through the co-development and joint approval of the policy,” Joseph added.

“We did not see this happen, and we now find ourselves with a final policy approved by Yukon Government alone that has not honoured the spirit and intent of our Final Agreement.”

Two cabinet ministers promoted the wetlands policy at a news conference held Jan. 10 in Whitehorse.

“The policy will protect sensitive wetlands while allowing for sustainable and responsible resource development,” Environment Minister Nils Clarke told reporters.

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister John Streicker said the government will conduct more research to help determine how the policy’s various components will be implemented in partnership with First Nations, other governments and industry.

Comments (36)

Up 1 Down 0

UN on Jan 24, 2023 at 4:08 pm

This is amusing to me. If anyone reads any recent legislation, project proposals, YESAB decision documents, do you know who the first people are that discussions must occur with; AYFN before any residents of the community, before any lifelong Yukoners who may live where activities may affect them. See, all governments, including FN, promote divisiveness. If we are divided, we are distracted and not focused on the issues at hand. If we were together as one for the children of tomorrow, the government would not be able to handle the force we could be.

Words of Tom MacDonald
" They never freed the slaves, they realized that they don't need the chains
They gave us tiny screens, we think we're free 'cause we can't see the cage
They knew that race war would be the game they need to play
For people to pick teams, they use the media to feed the flame"

Up 1 Down 0

Dentist47 on Jan 24, 2023 at 3:56 pm

First Nations Governments will never be happy with what they are given by the government. It also seems that the words “thank you” are missing from their collective vocabularies. Yes , we have “Masi Cho and Gunalsheesh (spl)”, but they are never used to thank the current governments for anything they get.

For example their legal bills for the land claims were compted by the Federal Government. Would an open letter to the taxpayers who never had anything to do with Residential Schools be out of line?

Whining and complaining can become habits that are very hard to get rid of.

Up 0 Down 1

Yukoner on Jan 24, 2023 at 9:04 am

Why so much backlash against FN on here? Do people seem to forget Canada has done an act of Genocide on them? Canada is FN land 100% before settlers came here from England and so on. If they want to keep fighting for what's right, I applaud them. Keep fighting. And no, it's never going to be enough. It will take many years to get things where they need to be with the Canadian government and YTG, remember folks, it's the government who rules the world.

Up 2 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Jan 24, 2023 at 8:36 am

I see the The Taku River Tlingit First Nation in Atlin, has declared much of its traditional territory in northern B.C. off-limits to mining and other extractive-resource development.
I'm not aware of the terms of their land claim agreement and how traditional territories may differ from public land and who has authority over land uses, but this sure looks like the thin edge of the wedge in what we're hearing from Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun.
Speak up YG, your silence suggests shifting policies again, without public consulation as we have witnessed before.

Up 18 Down 9

Julie on Jan 23, 2023 at 1:36 pm

@The effen irony of the FN history!

I was raised by an Indigenous Vet who served in that war. We would all be speaking German? It's the "Us Against Them" attitude. I guess those First Nations are not Yukoners or Canadian? Sorry, clearly you have no respect for the service of "Our" Veterans.

Up 33 Down 6

Only in this country on Jan 22, 2023 at 10:14 pm

Only in this country do we have the following:
- two types of justice in our courts, FN's and every one else
- "sovereign FN "nations" that rely on everything from the federal government
- bid value reductions for FN's making sure that if a FN company bids on a job there is no way any non-FN company can compete

We need people like Chief Louie from the Okanagan up here. He'd set all of you straight and would make sure you are thriving.



Up 13 Down 3

Anonymous on Jan 22, 2023 at 2:37 pm

@Political Parroting

Outstanding posts. Please run for office.

Up 13 Down 34

Nathan Living on Jan 22, 2023 at 10:53 am

First Nations have a voice which we all should listen to.

Wetlands should be protected whether they are on settlement land or traditional territory.

Let's protect Yukon wetlands!

Up 22 Down 11

Josey Wales on Jan 22, 2023 at 5:58 am

I tookalook...used a lil i as you did too.
Right wing crackers?
Well, since that is acceptable you suggested liberal retard, perhaps a sycophant of stupidity and deerskin moccasin licker.

Repeat...one race, and it's the human one...we are all just that.
You absolute racist fool supporting the division, classification of where ones humanity may fall on the victim of history scale.

Since you clearly are not paying attention, ya certainly do not see the victims piling up CURRENTLY with the history we are living RFN!
...only Ukrainian citizens can have Canadian guns, not Canadians
...only the elites can fly not y’all polluting rubes
...only the alleged first migrants can kill, maim, rape and steal with no accountability
...only those that are all in with team red can have jobs, insurance, ability to function via a bank account with the request of ANOTHER liberal idiot
(Just like I suspect you are itookalook)
...only some cultures can perform honour killings and have liberal idiots call it culture
...only some can feed themselves via unfettered hunting (if lawyers could communicate with critters...be a genocide claim AND trespass too)
...shall I go on?
I did not take just one look, been “looking” all my near six decades in the political circus I suggest you are a clown in.

RWC? man are you a complete idiot.
Many newbies up here far faaaar from the “cracker” spectrum would be 🤯
if the cradle to grave scam was clearly explained to them, the unaccountability for virtually everything clause of being Canadian royalty etc.

...and what we call a land claim process, Russia and Ukraine call war.
Oh yeah...some historical claims are more important than others historical claims...got it.

Up 20 Down 7

Corporate Authors - Ima Whyte, Ura Black, and I.B. Brown - Rainbow Publisher on Jan 21, 2023 at 11:21 pm

Yay Diversity! Everyone’s a winner babe… It’s time for another segment of Canada’s favourite political pass time, How Low Can You Go!

In last week’s episode we looked at 3 time blackface champion, 5 time ethics violator, master of political interference in the legal system, and the sinister Prime Minister - J. Trudeau!

This week we look into the proclivities of PM Blackface’s Federal minister for diversity and inclusion:
“It sounds ridiculous. But it’s true.”

“Federal minister for diversity and inclusion (yes, Canada has a minister with such a title) Ahmed Hussen says he asked the Department of Canadian Heritage to “look closely at the situation” after it was revealed a senior consultant with the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) has made comments that Canada’s special envoy on antisemitism, Irwin Cotler, has described as “beyond the pale.”

This Just-in; Canada is racist said Trudeau - You are all implicitly racist. Sure, we’re explicitly racist but you’re implicitly so. Haha - You’re not even aware of your racism it’s so implicit… No, don’t deny it! It’s the first sign of a problem!

Up 41 Down 8

Max Mack on Jan 21, 2023 at 3:08 pm


The Peel consultation was infiltrated by large international NGOs and their armies of supporters. MSM was clearly biased. An activist chair. A judge eager to leave his televised legacy. A "hero lawyer" to "fight" for FNs. The game was cooked.

So, tell me, Itookalook . . . where do you stand now that FNs are milking the Peel watershed for every commercial drop of blood possible in their "sacred" hinterland? And, one day those minerals will be needed. What then?

Up 45 Down 8

The effen irony of the FN history! on Jan 21, 2023 at 2:59 pm

At Freak Show Spectator with Popcorn on Jan 18, 2023 at 9:54 pm:

Your post is stupid! The FN should be thanking both Canada and the United States for intervening in the war and the creation of the Alaska Highway!

Those military vehicles should serve as a reminder that but for the military intervention the FN would have been speaking German or otherwise subjected to German interpretations of “holocaust ing”.

Every FN member should go out and hug and thank a war veteran for their service in the preservation of FN peoples and culture.

Up 10 Down 43

Itookalook on Jan 21, 2023 at 1:15 pm

Well looks like the right wing crackers are jumping all over this story. I only have one thing to say for your arm chair lawyers, navel gazers, prognosticators, this conversation sounds like what was being said at the beginning of the Peel dispute, how did that work out for you?

Up 12 Down 6

Wetland on Jan 20, 2023 at 7:52 pm

@ political parroting

UFA 11.6.4 ??? Oh my friend, you can not skip past the whole planning process (including the need to argue at the Supreme Court) and reference just the plan approval process.

Back up a few sections to where plans applies to BOTH settlement and non-settlement land THROUGHOUT the Yukon.

As for your math, admittedly I couldn’t map out your equations. Basically I figure if all us hard working tax paying Yukoners threw our pay checks in a hat at the end of the week we still wouldn’t be able to afford to clean up Faro...let alone cover the basic costs to service this territory.

Thanks Ottawa and all that private sector southern investment that keeps our Yukon economy and current standard of living afloat.

Up 15 Down 4

Juniper Jackson on Jan 20, 2023 at 6:27 pm

Political Parroting: Your comment is so well written, you just covered all the bases. This is to support you! Both of your comments are remarkable.

Up 76 Down 10

Political Parroting on Jan 20, 2023 at 8:11 am

@ Wetlands on Jan 19, 2023 at 12:26 pm

The UFA states:
11.6.4 - Each affected Yukon First Nation, after Consultation with Government, shall approve, reject or propose modifications to that part of the recommended regional land use plan applying to the *Settlement Land* of that Yukon First Nation.

There is no similar provision for traditional territory! All considerations around traditional territory are limited to consultation and compromise. In fact, Yukon FNs are required to participate in these discussions “while having regard to the interests of other Canadians” (UFA

So who’s REALLY not honouring the spirit of the UFA? ‘Settler’ society has bent over backwards to the point of casting hundreds, maybe thousands, more people into functional and acute poverty by way of limiting opportunities and growth. When will enough be enough? It’s not the politicians or the capitalists or the chiefs that are getting hurt, it’s the most vulnerable in our shared society. These victim narratives allow you to harm so many while keeping the moral high ground in your own eyes and the blinders in place to keep it going.

When you add up all the tax money from productive citizens coming in to the Yukon as transfer payments and other benefits, you end up somewhere around $1.5 billion for YG and another $1 billion spread out among Yukon FN governments and subsidiaries. That’s around $2.5 billion per year. Divide by the Yukon’s population of about 43000. That comes out to $58000 per person per year in government spending. If you isolate the $1 billion of payments to FNs against their self-identifying population of around 7500 spread over various nations and identities, then it’s $133000 per year per person for FNs and $42000 per year per person for “settlers”. That makes Yukon one of the most expensive and least efficient places to live on the planet. Also one of the least equal and most structurally apartheid-like states in the country. Literally the pot of gold at the end of the highway and it’s still not enough.

Decolonization or recolonization? Reconciliation or revenge? Collaboration or exploitation? It’s getting harder and harder to tell. Which is probably why more and more of these discussions are held in secret.

Up 50 Down 8

Crunch on Jan 19, 2023 at 10:36 pm

I will say what most are beating around the bush about. All signed FN’s want to be paid out on EVERY potential money making venture on the so called TT. Not asking much are they?

Up 15 Down 5

Karl Marx on Jan 19, 2023 at 10:22 pm

Yes. As long as only people pay the bills we have the authority to stop people from making money.
So sick of the hypocrisy.

This is a good plan. The FN were part of it all way. Let's move on to a solution that we all understand and agree on without a southern consultant at $200 an hour who has to a fake frenzy.

Up 46 Down 10

bonanzajoe on Jan 19, 2023 at 7:24 pm

@Toe on Jan 18, 2023: From what I have witnessed over the last several decades, it's the FN that has the issues. The non FN contributors have been the ones financing the Reconciliation issues. Time to wake up and smell the Sweetgrass.

Up 24 Down 6

Wetlands on Jan 19, 2023 at 12:26 pm

@ political parroting

UFA Chapter 11- Land Use Planning
Don’t feel bad in 20 years no one else has bothered to read it.

Up 88 Down 19

John on Jan 19, 2023 at 10:22 am

...and so it continues with this FN. Whine, whine, whine. We collectively need to chip in a send a semi load of cheese to them so they can enjoy that whine with some cheese! It is tiring to hear the same old BS, and truly this WLP is loaded with BS, especially when it comes to the cynical approach by some and their desire to shut everything down.

This is not reconciliation, or any attempt thereof. It is to see how much you can take without having to give anything back in return. It is one sided. It matters naught what the UFA says that parties agreed to but rather the I want, I want. You are lucky there is a Dawson City with all the amenities it has. Without mining the place would not even exist. Yet you seem to take advantage of everything it offers and then some. You demand - yet there is no ebb and flow - just more demands.

Never satisfied unless it is all your way. Just remember that you are like the rest of us on this planet - you have only been here as long as you have been alive. Get over the past and for once look to the future. If you fail to do that then you will continually be stuck in the past. Look for opportunities instead of negativity. Remember, the world does not revolve around your FN.

Up 48 Down 8

Groucho d'North on Jan 19, 2023 at 9:42 am

I will parrot Political Parrot's comments with a question: Through the various closed door meetings YG has had with first nations' leadership, has the interpretation of public/Crown lands and traditional territories been altered?
Amending the UFA would be a big deal and I hope the public would be involved in such an important discussion.

Up 63 Down 13

Josey Wales on Jan 19, 2023 at 7:59 am

Hmmm...yet again the alleged first migrants to this land mass are not happy, satisfied?
Can anyone remember anytime they were, with anything not in their unaccountable total control.

Then back to the Walt Disney version of what we are led to believe existed...pure tribal harmony with no reason to be angry as everything represented in the 15th through to 21st century will be gone...emotional and wellness restored within a generation I suggest.

One race...the human race we are all part of it!
To worship and govern based on the construct of a race, is foolish.

Guess the actual genocides of the 20th century, the gulags, the ovens, the killing fields of Cambodia, South American helicopter rides, the cattle trains of othered human beings...taught us sweet F/A

Up 61 Down 13

Matthew on Jan 19, 2023 at 6:25 am

If there's no money involved, they will never agree..

Up 50 Down 13

Keith on Jan 18, 2023 at 10:47 pm

More liberal party messes. Call an election

Up 13 Down 49

Freak Show Spectator with Popcorn on Jan 18, 2023 at 9:54 pm

Dear YUKONER on Jan 18, 2023 at 2:25 pm:

We did start cleaning up all the old vehicles and stuff from “our” lands but then you complained when we took your junk!
For sufferin succotash… Make up your minds will ya!

You remember the Teslin Tlingit fiasco don’t you?
Previously in the Star involving the TTC:

“He said the TTC, with funding from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC), removed the trucks as part of an environmental cleanup in the area.”
“The problem is, the trucks on that site have already been deemed environmentally safe.”
“They’re also protected under the Historic Resources Act and are owned and managed by the Yukon government – as signs there make clear.”

Yep, that would be cultural appropriation in action by the TTC all right. But what about the ideal of decolonization. We are not appropriating culture we are simply decolonizing the landscape.


Up 38 Down 8

bonanzajoe on Jan 18, 2023 at 8:11 pm

@With the FN on this one on Jan 18, 2023: "they are making money." Yeah, they are making money, but they have to work hard to get it. Money doesn't come free for the working people.

Up 19 Down 45

Nathan Living on Jan 18, 2023 at 8:01 pm

This policy is inconsistent with a respectful, government-to-government relationship among the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, and the Governments of Canada and Yukon. Yes, this is so true!

I agree with this 100 percent. Please honour the desire to protect wetlands advocated by First Nations. Do not present the dogma of mitigation and best mining practices because once destroyed these sacred areas will never be the same.

Shame on the Liberals and the NDP for supporting them.

Up 56 Down 17

iBrian on Jan 18, 2023 at 6:56 pm

@With the FN on this one on Jan 18, 2023 at 3:21 pm

- so your against destroying ecosystems for greed. What about Urban expansion? Paving over farm land? Oh, no cute birds to take pictures of and make a fake connection with in an article about how the wetlands spoke to you.

All you idiots think this green energy comes from nowhere. The gold pays for the investments which give returns to allow Advancement in technology. Only a University educated regurgitater of information from a biased point of view could blindly believe that a few swamps in the Yukon will change climate. No.
Stop buying from China!
Support small local made
Reduce your household energy.
Start to scale back on wants and work on needs. Put one of the parents back in the house full time to raise their children. Bring Family back into the house.

Up 36 Down 3

Doesn’t taste like chicken on Jan 18, 2023 at 5:44 pm

We have always advocated for a protections-first approach.”

Except, of course, concerning what you like to eat. Lucky ducks!

Up 26 Down 27

Toe on Jan 18, 2023 at 4:50 pm

By some of the comments people still have a problems with FN issues.

Up 19 Down 4

Mark on Jan 18, 2023 at 4:25 pm

It seems that we are in the predictable circumstance of having two sides unwilling to compromise or accommodate. This time it is over wetlands. Perhaps the two sides can leverage the work of other initiatives such as the Atlin Hydro Expansion Project by the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership (THELP). Surely this project has or is addressing the same concern for the destruction of wetlands or other environmental factors. Perhaps THELP can provide its wisdom on how it plans to protect the environment, maintain First Nations’ culture snd rights, and to implement a major infrastructure project.

Up 65 Down 85

With the FN on this one on Jan 18, 2023 at 3:21 pm

It is absolute nonsense to allow the interests of placer miners, many or most of whom do not live in the Yukon but scram as fast as they can after the mining season is over for their prefered habitats in the southern USA, to take precidence over the First Nations of the Yukon. Add to that the ridiculousness of the entire industry: destroying riparian zones to stack up gold in a safe; and paying 17 cents an ounce in royalties - it is all insanity.

I will sign up if the First Nations who want to fight this. The days of destroying ecosystems for nothing but pure greed are so incredibly overdue to END.

One last thing, the First Nations should be aware that behind the scenes, politicians and others are saying that these placer mines are actually benefiting a lot of First Nations members. So you are going to want to get straight on that. Is it true? Or are they just taking jobs that are available? Whatever it is, be aware and confront that message head on. I was basically shut down in an 'argument' once by someone saying that. Like 'who was I to tell them not to rip things apart for gold, in their own territories. That's what they want to do and they are making money.'

Up 78 Down 21

Juniper Jackson on Jan 18, 2023 at 2:49 pm

I'm sure the Libs will change the plan instantly to suit FN.

I also do not like many parts of the plan, but my opinion has nothing to do with the FN are unhappy. Its just not a good plan.

Up 111 Down 32

YUKONER on Jan 18, 2023 at 2:25 pm

Sh&% IF the first nations were so worried about the land start with cleaning up all the derelict vehicles you have laying all over the territory !!

Up 104 Down 27

Political Parroting on Jan 18, 2023 at 2:16 pm

Couple things…

Though the vast majority of scientists agree that human activity is contributing to warming, climate change and its consequences, comments like “humanity’s race against time to prevent or limit catastrophic harm from climate change” are hysterical and unproven. Politicians and controversy-addicted media have taken this narrative into the realm of fantasy to advance their own careers and interests.

Existential fear injected into our hearts by big names who it conveniently turns out are often invested in the technologies and initiatives they claim as solutions. Why are the largest names in climate change catastrophe narratives almost all - a) pundits and politicians, not scientists; b) investors in Generation Investment Management, and c) wield significant power from unelected and unaccountable positions?

Second, I’ve never read the part of the Umbrella Final Agreement that enshrines anything more than a right to consultation and compromise on land use in the Yukon other than settlement lands. It seems the interpretation of some nations is that they have control over the entirety of their claimed traditional territory. That is not the law. Yet pushing these self-serving and erroneous interpretations is not considered misinformation?

Can we get some under-educated practical folks in on some of these discussions? Cause the over-educated, under-challenged lemmings are starting to ruin the place one negligent, poverty-inducing, fear-spreading, racial-dividing, evidence-denying, self-enriching, sanctimonious move at a time. The sky isn’t falling. The dramatic overreaction is tiring, but unfortunately in the era of hypersensitivity, it’s working.

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