Whitehorse Daily Star

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Ta’an Kwäch’än Council Chief Kristina Kane and Chief Doris Bill

Settlement Lands being damaged, First Nations say

The Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council say they’ve noticed a significant increase in Yukoners recreating on Settlement Lands, causing some long-term damage.

By Whitehorse Star on July 21, 2020

The Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council say they’ve noticed a significant increase in Yukoners recreating on Settlement Lands, causing some long-term damage.

“We respect everyone’s desire to enjoy all that the Yukon has to offer. But we are concerned that increased use of these lands for recreational pursuits is having a negative impact,” Kristina Kane, chief of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, said in a recent statement.

“The cumulative effects and impacts facing these sites is challenging and can take years to reverse.”

A growing Whitehorse population also seems to be contributing to increased hiking, camping, dog walking, biking, wildlife viewing and off-road vehicle use, the press release stated.

An increase in use may also be attributed to COVID-19 restrictions inspiring more Yukoners to recreate outside.

The two First Nations did not make representatives available to the Star for interviews.

In their statement, they said are concerned that Settlement Land will undergo more damage as Yukoners, travellers passing through to Alaska and B.C. residents increasingly utilize the land.

Both First Nations are requesting that Yukoners refrain from using Settlement Land sites so that the land, water and wildlife populations can heal.

There will be more patrols and community engagement events to assist in this.

A number of key areas of concern are highlighted in the press release.

These include unauthorized usage, vandalism and destruction of cultural sites, like traditional family and campsites. 

There is also unauthorized structure and trail development, tree cutting, more pet waste, litter and dumping.

Social media promotion of some wildlife viewing sites is also exacerbating the problem, the release said.

The First Nations described a “general lack of awareness by the general public about First Nation land management practices” when surveying the damage done by recreators.

“Protecting and preserving our lands and heritage sites for future generations is a key priority for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation,” Chief Doris Bill said in the statement.

“Our ancestors have inhabited this land for thousands of years and we must continue our role as stewards of the land, air, waters, and animals.”

According to Bill, Kwanlin Dün’s Department of Heritage, Lands and Resources will be stepping up patrols on the land.

There is also a liability issue surrounding recreation on Settlement Land, the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council chief said.

“The public puts themselves at risk when using lands that are not regularly patrolled or managed for general recreational purposes,” Kane said.

“We hope to educate everyone about respecting and caring for these important TKC resources.”

Visitors who are uncertain whether they are using Settlement Land can contact either of the two First Nations or consult the Settlement Land maps available online.

Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s Settlement Land encompasses 1,042 square kilometres surrounding Whitehorse.

Ta’an Kwäch’än Council’s Settlement Land covers 796 square kilometres.

This land is protected for the use of the two First Nations to carry out on-the-land activities, protect harvesting areas and cultural sites.

This is according to land claim legislation, which was signed by Kwanlin Dün in 2005 and by Ta’an Kwäch’än Council in 2002.

Comments (27)

Up 2 Down 3

drum on Jul 27, 2020 at 5:28 pm

It is land for all Yukoners unless private property. Crown land and Settlement land should be used by all Yukoners and respected.

Up 2 Down 3

drum on Jul 27, 2020 at 5:18 pm

New signs are going up everywhere all of sudden identifying Settlement Lands. Maybe we should identify Crown Land the same way. Equal rights.

Up 5 Down 2

Jonathan Colby on Jul 26, 2020 at 6:07 pm

Wy was my comment butchered?


*but only because they cant

Up 11 Down 20

Nathan Living on Jul 26, 2020 at 2:34 pm

Yo Blunt

SETTLEMENT LAND is land owned and operated by FNs through land claims agreements.
Within the city people are supposed to stay off private property through city bylaws so yes, the city should be involved through ensuring people with recreational vehicles have plates and perhaps doing joint paroles with FNs will help stem the assault on the land and trees and structures.

I find many posts here to be intolerant and racist and people who think they can go anywhere and do whatever they want are entitled and just plain wrong.

Up 45 Down 8

Blunt on Jul 25, 2020 at 6:02 pm

@ One One Lesser Voice - You ask why the blunt pushback from Yukoners? Because there is a double standard here, haven't you noticed? Some people are much more special than others, it seems. I see it and feel it everyday here in the Yukon and it is much much MUCH more prevalent now than ever before. No, I'm not one of the special ones.

If the FN identifies sacred ground, why do you think the City should be responsible to protect it? Why should my tax dollars be used for something that applies only to a certain group of which I am not a member? Don't you think it's time the FNs took responsibility for their own stuff with their own monies and their own people? Is that not what self-government means?

The entitlement thing has gone way too far, in my opinion, and probably in others' opinions also, hence the pushback. Just my two cents worth.
You might consider reading some of the UFA as you don't seem to understand anything about it.

Up 6 Down 15

Wilf Carter on Jul 25, 2020 at 11:38 am

I find the comments very interesting. But why would people make comments such as they are??? What the reasoning for such comments. I thank the Star for bringing forward challenging subjects for all residents of COW.

Up 21 Down 21

Nathan Living on Jul 24, 2020 at 12:26 am

Protecting areas around this town is pretty tough.

First Nations will have to get their staff out on their lands evenings and weekends to deal with what is happening. They should not expect help from city bylaw which does not enforce ATV or dirt bike use, Have seen only 2 plates on these machines in the last 3 years so yes they just let it go and look the other way.

It seems like people who drive recreation vehicles get special treatment here. What's the deal with this, taxpayers have always said they live here for the wilderness city . Why are they giving so much away?

Up 55 Down 12

Joe on Jul 23, 2020 at 11:18 pm

Don’t get me wrong, I do agree we all need to stop polluting and damaging the environment and I do appreciate those who but bring those concerns forward, just not much on some people having more rights than others for any reason.

Up 12 Down 23

Jonathan Colby on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Love all the people who hate living in Apartied Canada, but only in BC they can't do what they want on stolen land.

Stay classy Yukon. Never change

Up 42 Down 4

BnR on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:14 am

I love it when the Star edits ones comments into something a child would cobble together.
C’mon Whitehorse Star. If you don’t like the comment, don’t put it up. That's your prerogative, it’s YOUR paper. But don’t edit them down, especially if the portions edited out we’re not racist etc.

Up 69 Down 6

Ali on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:18 am

Y'know on some parts of the internet I have hope for change, the love and support. Getting closer as a people.
Then I stumble across threads like this and it reminds me how far we have to go. I get just as sick and f*cking tired being indigenous. This is my home, all of our home. What ever happened with our ancestors, it's passed. I want to express too I want to be equal. If you can believe it.

Up 38 Down 41

Joanne on Jul 22, 2020 at 8:08 pm

This is what happens when nothing is done about off road vehicle use. The City of Whitehorse has allowed the use of ATV's and dirt bikes to ride wherever they please without consequences and it has gotten out of hand. Even neighbourhood walking trails are used by individuals seeking joyrides on ATV's and dirt bikes with total disregard of others. The ruts and damage to the environment is upsetting, not to mention the noise in residential areas. I thought Yukoners were better than this!

Up 40 Down 7

Oya on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:07 pm

@ Joe You nailed it. I agree completely. So sick of the racist lines drawn in the Yukon.

Up 28 Down 67

One One-Lesser-Voice on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:07 pm

So, First Nations negotiated for settlement land which as far as I know belongs to them. They even refer to maps that show where these areas are located.
I do not understand the blunt pushback from Yukoners when FNs are saying please stop damaging our structures and special areas. They negotiated for those areas and I do not understand why they did not settle for more land.
Something is horribly wrong here and it shows many Yukoners are out of touch.

Up 83 Down 23

Obi on Jul 22, 2020 at 1:41 pm

Possible misprint?
It states, "the first nations request that Yukoners refrain from using settlement land sites so that the land, water and wildlife populations can heal."
This request should read, ALL Yukoners, and if not and if permission is required to walk on, ride bikes, etc on settlement land by all non indigenous people, then non settlement land should also require permission from indigenous people to access the rest of the Territory. "quid pro quo".

Up 18 Down 15

Josey Wales on Jul 22, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Vlad...does it, says who..you?
I read it very carefully as written here, I very much noticed a very crafty mix of words none of it supporting your claim.
The term unauthorized use alone, should trip the alarm. Did it not?
Tripped mine, and I comprehend that to be all whom are not they.

So no I do not read this as "all people", but do give those choosing the words credit for their craft. Despite the fork I read...you are very good.

Up 51 Down 3

comen sense on Jul 22, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Seen it many times, fresh tracks in a remote areas and garbage on the ground. Macdonald cups. Tim Horton cups, garbage of all kinds .

Up 58 Down 9

vlad on Jul 22, 2020 at 8:30 am

@the hammer - and it includes citizens of the First Nations as well.

Up 30 Down 50

One One-Lesser-Voice on Jul 21, 2020 at 8:35 pm

Kwanlin Dun identified environmentally sensitive areas that deserve special protection; these areas and the FN land dispositions are under threat and it's time for the city and residents to step up and honour these areas and protect them.

Up 92 Down 16

Max Mack on Jul 21, 2020 at 7:53 pm

Doesn't the UFA provide for public access to settlement lands? Just as FN can traverse freely on Crown lands?

Up 20 Down 11

TMYK on Jul 21, 2020 at 7:51 pm

Many animals destroy their habitat, left to their own devices. This is most commonly done by herbivores, small animals with high metabolisms in particular, which reproduce quickly and eat A LOT. This destructive behavior is kept in check, however, by natural predators.

Humans have already exterminated most of our predators. Disease, parasites, natural disasters, and war are - for the most part - our only natural threats remaining. Additionally, we destroy the environment at a much greater rate than other species because our population has already exploded out of control. Our actions now visibly and quickly affect the globe, a trait shared - for the most part - only by organisms such as algae capable of altering our atmosphere and temperature.

Back to the predators; I mentioned disease and parasites, both of which can barely keep up with our technology. I mentioned natural disasters, which are being better predicted and mitigated more effectively with every instance; natural disasters typically no longer kill large volumes of humans unless they occur in an underdeveloped area.

Then there's war. As it stands, humans are the only natural predators of humans left. The efforts of the violent and power-hungry are not enough to truly curb our population, though; the onset of newer military techniques mean ever fewer casualties.

That leaves it up to Mother Nature to restore balance. Like rabbits that have eaten the ground barren, our thoughtless destruction will provoke retaliation of our own making.

It's not that we're the only ones. We're just not dying fast enough.

Up 72 Down 8

Guncache on Jul 21, 2020 at 6:52 pm

This request would apply to ALL PEOPLE

Up 98 Down 28

Joe on Jul 21, 2020 at 6:38 pm

Recreators?? My view is one Nation where everyone is treated equally with equal rights. I'm not sure where I come from or even if anyone in my family has the racist term “status” ( probably). It appears your view is two nations where you get to benefit from your land yet you also want to benefit from The services and supports, health care, infrastructure from the other nation. Yet the other nation doesn't get the benefits you get on “your” land, can't hunt, can't fish, now you're implying can't use at all. I believe it's time to put your views forward clearly.

Up 66 Down 10

Groucho d'North on Jul 21, 2020 at 4:58 pm

There is no place for litter and /or destruction on any of the Yukon's lands: private, crown and treaty lands. Start enforcing the posted fines for littering & wood butchery and stop letting these offenders go scott-free. You have the tools - please use them.

Up 34 Down 11

Patti Eyre on Jul 21, 2020 at 4:44 pm

We should all respect the land, regardless of who owns it! Don't poop where you live, unless it's indoor plumbing with appropriate sanitation controls in place! Juan de Fuca, here we come!

Up 56 Down 23

BnR on Jul 21, 2020 at 3:32 pm

The Umbrella Final Agreement guarantees access to Canadian citizens on all First Nation settlement lands.
The Yukon Liberal government has created this mess by not providing any sort of leadership. It began with the closure of Caribou hunting in the Ross River area based solely on the Ross River Dena Councils whims.

Our Yukon government was elected to represent all Yukoners.

The Yukon government must show leadership and reestablish land use certainty.
If there are specific sites of concern for the First Nations, by all means, identify those sites and work with YG to remediate, but this scattershot, passive-aggressive approach only creates animosity.

Up 44 Down 51

TheHammer on Jul 21, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Disrespect for nature is supposed to be a thing of the past. It's not right and it's not fair. No animal despoils its own habitat. This is one of the signs of alienation from our instincts, and the total ignorance of ones place in the universe. Every self respecting citizen should be on side with the First Nation initiative, and press the government for public awareness, and education in the schools.

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