White River First Nation Says Yukon’s Response to Ross River Dena “Free Entry” Court Decision Inadequate
Box 2 - Beaver Creek, Yukon - Y0B 1A0
Telephone (867) 862-7802 | Fax: (867) 862-7806
January 7th, 2014 - Whitehorse, Yukon: White River First Nation is calling on the Yukon Government to address their recent mining legislation gaps and to implement an immediate staking moratorium in White River Traditional Territory, until the matter is properly resolved between our Government and the Yukon Government. The legislative response by Yukon does not meet the Yukon’s legal duty to consult with White River and any activities that take place without proper consultation with White River First Nation will be subject to legal challenge. Like the Kaska Nation, WRFN holds unsurrendered aboriginal rights and title to our lands and have not signed any land claim agreement with Canada and Yukon.
The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the appeal of Yukon Government on the Ross River Dena Council Free Entry case. The effect of this was to change the law so that that “Free Entry” mining in WRFN Territory, as it has previously been implemented by Yukon, is no longer legal. The courts have ruled that any mining activities that may have an impact upon our aboriginal rights and title must be subject to consultation, and where appropriate accommodation, prior to establishing more third party interests and prior to engaging in that activity.
Major projects such as the Western Copper’s Casino Project and Kaminak Gold lie within WRFN Traditional Territory.
WRFN Chief Charles Elkland Jr. said, “The RRDC case decision that found that the “Free Entry” mining system was a breach of Aboriginal rights clearly applies to WRFN Territory, and is a call to action of the Pasloski Government. As we stated last year, all staking must be suspended in our Territory pending resolution of these matters. WRFN has asked for years for a true process to resolve issues with Government to create certainty for all. To date, there has been no serious commitment to this from YG and the economy will continue to falter as a result with terrible uncertainty for investment.”
“The WRFN win in court over YG and Tarsis as well as RRDC case ending “free entry” show that the old ways of doing business in YT for mining are over. Yukon’s latest response does not yet recognize this reality and there will be a cost for their living in denial unless there is an immediate change in their policy approach,” said WRFN Deputy Chief Dwayne Broeren.
For more information, contact: Krista Robertson, JFK Law: (250) 475-2010