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Gwich'in plans to sue Yukon
Lawsuit supports legal action filed by First Nations in Yukon

Kassina Ryder
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 10, 2014

The Gwich'in Tribal Council's vice president says the council is launching a lawsuit against the Government of Yukon in response to its decision about the Peel Watershed.

Norman Snowshoe said while a date hasn't been set, the council announced its intent to file legal action against the government Feb. 4.

"This is a huge undertaking," Snowshoe said. "We have to get together with legal counsel and determine the specifics of the lawsuit."

The Tr'ondek Hwech'in and Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nations in Yukon, as well as the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Yukon Conservation Society, filed a lawsuit against the Government of Yukon Jan. 27.

Snowshoe said because the Gwich'in Tribal Council is not party to the Yukon's Umbrella Final Agreement, the council will be filing a lawsuit of its own.

The Transboundary Agreement in the Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement means Gwich'in in the Northwest Territories must be consulted during land use planning in the Peel watershed, according to a news release from the council.

Snowshoe said that agreement was violated when the Government of Yukon released its own plan, which was implemented Jan. 21.

"Unfortunately, we have to go on our own," Snowshoe said.

Snowshoe said the council supported the Peel Watershed Planning Commission's final recommended plan, which called for protection of 80 per cent of the watershed.

The plan released by the Yukon Government protected 29 per cent.

"We envisioned when we started this whole process that it would be a collaborative effort and all our interests would be met," he said.

Snowshoe said the government's decision to release and implement

its own plan without consultation is unacceptable.

"We're not going to allow that," he said.

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