Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomed the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada guaranteeing protection for the Peel Watershed in the Yukon.
OTTAWA – “This landmark decision sets a precedent that all agreements achieved through modern Treaties will be defended and protected by the higher courts in this country,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “These lands are sacred, and First Nations have the right to be involved in any decisions that affect our lives, our lands, and our waters. I want to lift up the three Yukon First Nations — Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, the First Nation of Na Cho Nyäk Dän, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation — as well as the Tetlit Gwich’in in the neighbouring Northwest Territories for standing up for their traditional territories and their constitutionally protected rights.”
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Yukon government must complete final consultations on a land use plan that protects 80% of the pristine watershed. This comes after the Yukon government, under previous leadership, derailed the planning process, forcing through its own agenda to industrialize 71% of the Peel Watershed, contravening its constitutional obligations.
First Nations across the country unanimously conveyed their support for the Yukon First Nations in the Peel River Watershed case through AFN resolution 69/2016 passed at the AFN 2016 Annual General Assembly.