On the tail of Bill C-17 becoming law, self-governing Yukon First Nations and the territorial and federal governments have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the Yukon Environment and Socio-economic Assessment Act, marking a fresh start on how all parties will handle future YESAA projects.
Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Chief Steve Smith, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett made the announcement Dec. 15 following the Intergovernmental Forum in Whitehorse.
“Today was a very good day,” Johnston said during a press conference, noting that it follows several other wins for Yukon First Nations this year, including the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on the Peel watershed planning case and a moratorium on a federal policy that saw Ottawa clawing back money from self-governing First Nations with their own revenue sources.
In a press release, Bennett said by signing the MOU and passing Bill C-17, which undid several controversial amendments the Harper government made to YESAA without properly consulting Yukon First Nations, the government is “re-establishing trust with Yukon First Nations and removing a key impediment to increased investment, responsible development, and jobs in the Yukon.”
At the press conference, Bennett added that it was “inspiring” to be in the Yukon because “it is a place where there is certainty of opportunity because now the territorial government and the Grand Chief and the self-governing First Nations as well as the other First Nations are working together on a shared priority for their region.”
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