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    Sandy Silver interview April 8, 2022 CHONfm

First Nation of Na-cho Nyäk Dun wants development on their traditional territory stopped

Thousands of mining claims have been given up in the Peel Watershed.

Peel Watershed (photo from protectpeel.ca)

Last week, the government of Yukon announced that seven companies have given up over 5,000 of the more than 7,000 mining claims in conservation areas identified in the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan that was approved in August 2019.

 

The Newmont Corporation, a gold mining company based in Colorado, gave up the most claims, relinquishing just over 1800.

 

Bernard Kreft, Generic Gold and ATAC Resources are among the other companies that have given up their claims.

 

First Nation of Na-cho Nyäk Dun would have preferred the claims were never approved

 

The Peel Watershed is the traditional territory of three Yukon First Nations, one of which is the First Nation of Na-cho Nyäk Dun.

 

Na-cho Nyäk Dun says that they welcome the news of companies giving up their claims, but they would have preferred that the government of Yukon never approved the claims in the first place.

 

“I want to acknowledge the corporate and environmental responsibility that Newmont and other mining companies are demonstrating by relinquishing their mining claims in the Peel Watershed,” says Na-cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn in a statement.

 

“Perhaps this could have been avoided had these mining claims never been authorized,” the statement continues.

 

The First Nation is also calling for development on their traditional territory to be temporarily halted.

 

“Yukon should institute a moratorium on development throughout our Traditional Territory until we have approved regional land use plans for our entire territory, as our Final Agreement guarantees,” Chief Simon Mervyn’s statement adds.

 

“Good compromise”

Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources John Streicker (photo from yukonliberalcaucus.ca).

 

John Streicker is the Yukon’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources.

 

“If you’re going to put a moratorium on everything, then that’s everything. We want to be careful that there’s still the ability for some work to happen on the land,” Streicker tells CHONfm.

 

“It’s not just about mining, it’s about anything you might do – whether it’s an energy project or whether that’s a farm. So, if you say you can’t do any development while land use planning is in place, that’s a lot of stop,” Streicker adds.

 

“The good compromise that we’ve come up with is to say ‘okay look, as the plan is going ahead, if there are areas which are recommended for conservation, then we will go in and withdraw those lands from having development on them,” Streicker continues.

 

Streicker says that conversations with mining companies to give up the rest of the claims are ongoing.

 

He also says that the territory needs to accelerate land use planning but there is not much funds to draw on from the federal government because the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan “wasn’t done well” and was a “real battle.”

 

Published February 7, 2022. 

Written by: Dylan MacNeil

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