Whitehorse Daily Star

Suspend mining, WRFN says

The White River First Nation (WRFN) is seeking a shutdown of mining activity during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

By Whitehorse Star on April 1, 2020

The White River First Nation (WRFN) is seeking a shutdown of mining activity during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

“In order to protect elders, we cannot have people from out of territory entering on charter flights, exposing their potential illness to Yukoners,” the WRFN said in a statement.

“On the one hand, the premier (Sandy Silver) is correct in saying the situation is extremely serious, declaring an emergency. On the other hand, the Yukon government is saying mining is open for business. That doesn’t make sense.”

WRFN lands director Janet VanderMeer is responsible for overseeing execution of the lands office’s COVID-19 response.

“Victoria Gold would have us believe workers coming to the Yukon aren’t leaving a hotel room in Whitehorse for 14 days before they head to site,” she said.

“Why should Yukoners have to take this risk? WRFN doesn’t want to take that chance with elders and youth.”

It’s seeking assurances from Silver that all staking, permitting and exploration activity in WRFN Traditional Territory will he suspended during the emergency.

“People rightly focused on public safety and not permit application responses during this crisis,” added VanderMeer.

“We realize this emergency is creating hardship for workers and businesses, but we all must do the tough work together now to eradicate it, so that it does not last longer and become more dangerous,” the First Nation added.

“We support the position of the Northern Tutchone Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation.”

Comments (16)

Up 12 Down 6

Leper Miner on Apr 6, 2020 at 10:13 pm

Lots of talk of blockades and charter violations in order to keep the infected miners away from the vacationing townfolk. Miners from the territory are being harassed at the community level and in some cases, miners of First Nation decent living in First Nation housing are being threatened with eviction. Local miners are are being defamed in community Facebook groups. Most don't realize that southern mine employees are under a mandatory and monitored self isolation upon entry to the Yukon.
Time to install a Go Pro and record the abuse and the illegal actions taking away your chartered rights. Maybe we can all band together and launch a class action suit against some of these fear mongering vigilantes.
Maybe we should start to rally our troops and start fighting back .... in a lawful way

Up 7 Down 7

Miles Epanhauser on Apr 6, 2020 at 7:46 pm

Suspend mining for the summer, ban all road traffic going to Alaska, ban airline flights, close the schools until the fall, and of course keep all outsiders out because they may be diseased.

Wow, what may be next if the fear mongering goes crazy.

Up 14 Down 18

Covid Fighter on Apr 6, 2020 at 12:24 pm

This is a misleading story and a misleading headline. Course that didn't stop the usual knuckle draggers from showing their true colors.
Ms. Vandermeer is not an elected leader of WRFN and I suspect does not speak for the FN, enough said.
NNDFN has a huge mine right next door to their community, if I lived there I would be concerned too. They might be using the media to get their point across to the mining company. This is not about a fight with mining, this is about making sure more people do not die unnecessarily.
Some of the comments on this story show a high level of ignorance.

Up 8 Down 20

Anton on Apr 3, 2020 at 8:00 pm

I know, WRFN should set up a road block on the Alaska Hiway in support of Nacho Nyak Dun. That would make perfect sense and a brilliant economic move.

Up 23 Down 15

Jonathan Colby on Apr 3, 2020 at 6:09 pm


"Everyone will catch this flu, and some will not make it through. 
The harsh reality of truth bud."

No s**t. The problem is, if everybody gets it all at once, more people will die. Now I don't know about you, but, despite being a horribly grouchy misanthrope, I would prefer if less people died. Especially since, there is a critical capacity at which our health care system will no longer be able to satisfactorily provide care, and that's when people start dying like crazy.

If that sounds okay with you, I asked you to name them. Name the people in your life that you would be willing to feed into the meat grinder for the appearance of economic success. Name the people you are ok with letting die.

Taking this kind of attitude towards this pandemic, all you're saying is that, there's a balance between money and lives, we need to talk more seriously about the money, and I'm here to tell you, that is psychopathic.

Up 43 Down 13

RJ on Apr 3, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Appears Victoria Gold Corp is being a responsible employer and taking all necessary steps in order to keep all employees safe as they continue production on site.

Up 50 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Apr 3, 2020 at 10:30 am

Wouldn't it be simpler and easier to keep the elders well distanced from these disease-laden miners working way out in the bush? These long-lived people are old and may have pre-existing conditions, if you really care about them keep them isolated from harm - for their own good. They should not be wandering around in Whitehorse, but at home like the law and Justice Minister promotes.

Up 37 Down 6

brian on Apr 3, 2020 at 9:45 am

Woodcutter... WRFN never signed the UFA. What treaty obligations are you talking about?

Up 37 Down 4

Ron on Apr 2, 2020 at 8:37 pm

"The White River First Nation (WRFN) is seeking a shutdown of mining activity"
Imagine my shock.

Up 23 Down 20

iBrian on Apr 2, 2020 at 6:02 pm

Go back in the bush man, my self serving interests??? What? Cause I can look out for myself and my family? Don’t worry buddy, I am out of work too, in tourism. Won’t be guiding anyone fishing or eco tours. Thankfully I have a back up plan.
Didn’t mean to get your panties all in a bunch. I have $0 income potential until I get into a creek. So, should I come to your house, take your food and we can call it even? Save me and my little Mining adventure. Man, I am not concerned with bankrupting the Yukon. Our Transfer payment is equal to what the USA GDP was in 1933!!!
Once in a 100 years. I don’t care about this Pandemic BS. The entire stock market is collapsing, and as for vulnerable people, I have elder family members too. I love them. But at the end of the day, can’t stop the inevitable. Everyone will catch this flu, and some will not make it through.
The harsh reality of truth bud.

Up 13 Down 33

Jonathan Colby on Apr 2, 2020 at 1:48 pm

Strange the way this article was written.
The NND in Mayo said, shut mining down. WRFN expressed solidarity, yet it seems like this article is trying to point at the WRFN as the instigators.

Also, I see the casually racist regulars are out today. Good stuff, Yukon. Never change.

Up 23 Down 29

woodcutter on Apr 2, 2020 at 12:07 pm

@JC your comment is based on ignorance and lacks appreciation of the entire facts. Treaty obligations are obviously beyond your knowledge base and it shows. Perhaps to spin it in a way you might appreciate, if you cut off funding then perhaps to balance the scale, all non FN persons should leave the Yukon.

@iBrian - when did this become about you? Your self serving attitude is going to kill people. Your self imposed importance of chomping at the bit, only demonstrates the challenges responsible people, who are in turn responsible for the safety and health of the most vulnerable people, have in grappling with this pandemic. Your little mine not operating this summer isn't going to bankrupt the Yukon, nor is the little in tax dollars you pay isn't going to keep it afloat.

People this is a once in a 100 year occurrence, get on board before you cause the death of someone. Get on board and be part of the solution, or wait until you're flagged as a problem, then your face and name is all over the internet as the selfish people you're being.

Up 57 Down 18

iBrian on Apr 2, 2020 at 9:31 am

Ahh, Ms.VanDermeer
Your people of White River FN are based in Beaver Creek.
Beaver Creek is 823 km from Mayo and another 50km from Eagle Mine.
If your elders are practicing social distancing, they will be OK.
No need to stop progress completely.
All this money the current Government is handing out has to come from somewhere.
As a recipient of tax money, I would assume your not trying to bite the hand that feeds you.
No matter what, we (people of Yukon) need to keep generating revenues and not completely stop all sources.
As a small time Miner and Trapper, I make a living on the land. I need access to the land. I won’t be sitting on the road looking at empty creeks just to appease you. I have already had enough of this sitting around waiting crap too. Many of us are chomping at the bit to get out, just now waiting for Mother Nature to work with us.
I won’t put your elders at risk by driving 8 hours to Beaver Creek and stopping in for a Tea. How’s that?

Up 40 Down 4

Wes on Apr 1, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Ranj knows what side his toast is buttered on. Never gong to happen.

Up 32 Down 17

Miles Epanhauser on Apr 1, 2020 at 5:29 pm

If no mining then no flights into the Yukon and no travel on the Alaska highway is the way to go and it's what some FNs and many people want.
Placer miners can self isolate on their claims, the Alaska highway is crucial to the US military because members are coming and going all the time, and airlines have pretty much shut down.

We cannot eat gold but the mining industry is important and it's political to appease it.

Up 51 Down 24

JC on Apr 1, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Since there would be no mining income to pay taxes, how about shutting down the FN cheques until this state of emergency ends as well. The PM says, it may take 9 months or more. As long as miners and other businesses that depend on mining have to bite the bullet shouldn't they?

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