Commentary: SCC decision on Peel watershed in Yukon another win for First Nations – by Bill Gallagher (Northen Miner – December 6, 2017)

First Nations have just won an important lawsuit at the Supreme Court of Canada on account that the Yukon government had tried to do an end-run on their land claim settlements.

Readers who have followed my tracking of the native legal winning streak in Canada will be familiar with my preferred wording of “Land Rights” as the catch-all phrase whereby natives typically win in the resources sector since they have constitutionally-protected land rights that the rest of us don’t.

My message to government and industry is always the same: realize that natives are resource gatekeepers in Canada and work them into the project as the key local players that they are.

In this instance, the Yukon Party under Premier Darrell Pasloski — in office from 2011 to 2016 — proposed in November 2012 to reverse environmental protection measures suggested for the Peel watershed by an independent land use commission established pursuant to modern land claims agreements between the Yukon and Canadian governments and representatives of the territory’s First Nations.

The commission had recommended that 80% of the watershed be kept pristine with the rest opened for resource development. The Pasloski government wanted to reverse that equation in order to get the territory’s resource sector rolling.

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