The agreement between the Yukon and the First Nations, signed by the parties as a “major step”, was also welcomed by the mining industry. The document aims to redraw intergovernmental relations that have become strained under the former territorial government.
The agreement provides for the development of a five-year action plan and meetings four times a year. The next ones are scheduled for April, September and December. There were four main areas of discussion: the implementation of territorial agreements, the transfer of funding, the adoption of legislation and a common representation in Ottawa.
Prime Minister Sandy Silver says he expects conversations to be difficult, but believes that the parties’ intentions to find solutions are sincere. The Great Chief of the Yukon First Nations Council, Peter Johnstone, asserted that “[relations] had changed dramatically, 180 degrees.”
As First Nations, we were able to build the agenda this time. We established a format that respects our culture, we began the meeting with a ceremony and listened attentively to the government.-Peter Johnstone, Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations
The Chamber of Mines delighted
That is very positive. We have known for a while that the industry is facing a great deal of uncertainty with respect to intergovernmental relations and we have called for greater respect and better relationships.
-Samson Hartland, Yukon Chamber of Mines
The Chamber of Mines is also undertaking the development of a guide on best approaches to First Nations in the Territory for investors. The joint federal-territorial-agency project is to be launched in March 2018 after consultation with each of the 14 First Nations in the territory.