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Yukon panorama

Yukon Stories: Mining's Unbalanced Influence in the North

In September 2013, MiningWatch's Canada Program Coordinator, Ramsey Hart, travelled to the Yukon. The trip north gave him the opportunity to hear Yukoners’ stories - their concerns and their vision of a sustainable future. Unfortunately the status quo has mining interests maintaining an overwhelming influence over government decision making and land use planning. That said, Ramsey met people who are passionately challenging the status quo. Sometimes they win, as the recent Ross River Dena decision shows.

During his Yukon trip Ramsey met with representatives from three First Nations, activists, and affected community members. Ramsey conducted five video interviews (see below) that cover a wide range of issues including the Peel Watershed, abandoned mines being re-developed in Keno City, Kluane National Park, the free entry system and more. Ramsey's trip was made possible by support from Canary Research Institute with funding from the Small Change Fund's North of 55 program..

Lewis Rifkin, Yukon Conservation Society

Lewis Rifkind, of the Yukon Conservation Society (YCS), calls for the territory to impose higher royalties on current mining production and investment in promoting economic activity that would take advantage of the region’s outstanding parks and recreational areas.

Yvonne Bessette, Keno City

Yvonne Bessette, a resident of Keno City, a historic mining area with renewed activity, highlights the threats to water, and the need for her and other citizens to be allowed to have a voice in decision-making processes that affect their quality of life.

Mary Whitley, President of the Board, Yukon Conservation Society

Mary Whitley, President of the YCS Board, talks about the positive public consultation process undertaken to define the future of the Peel Watershed, and the strong recommendations that resulted. Her concerns that the territorial government would undermine the final report and give greater weight to the interests of the mining sector at the cost of public interest have unfortunately become fact. There will be legal challenges!

Sally Wright, an artist and environmentalist

Sally Wright, an artist and environmentalist living near Kluane National Park, draws attention to the encroachment of mining activity on the Park and the Kluane Game Sanctuary, arguing that the threat to the ecosystem – may be irreparable if the area is not better protected.

Bob Van Dijken, environmentalist and activist

Bob Van Dijken, environmentalist and activist, calls for greater consultation and shared decision-making with the Yukon’s aboriginal communities. Citing the enormous burden on the tax payer to do damage control on closed mine sites, Bob wonders how the relatively small population of the Yukon will shoulder this burden as future mine remediation becomes a territorial responsibility.