Government of Canada Moves to Address Yukon First Nations' Concerns about Environmental Assessment Rules: Introduces a bill to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA)

News Release

June 8, 2016 – Whitehorse, YT – Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, introduced a bill in the House of Commons today that would amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA).

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring public trust in environmental assessment processes. We will demonstrate to Canadians and to the world that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. Recognizing Indigenous rights and the interests of all Canadians is a key component of supporting a resilient natural resource sector.

In order to achieve this goal, the Government must work in partnership with Indigenous peoples, provincial and territorial governments, and Canadians to ensure that legislation underpinning these processes is clear, fair and appropriate, and reflects the needs of everyone involved.

In the case of legislative changes made to YESAA in 2015, a number of Yukon First Nations and other Yukoners expressed concern that certain elements did not meet these standards.

The proposed amendments introduced today would repeal these four contentious elements.

Quotes

“Ensuring sustainable resource development that respects Indigenous rights is a key component of restoring public trust in environmental assessments. The Government of Canada is committed to moving forward in partnership with Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Government to support a resilient resource sector, increase legal certainty, and pave the way for greater investment and jobs for all Yukoners.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

“As both an MP and a Yukoner I am pleased to see the Government of Canada moving forward on this issue. While the Yukon is rich with natural resources, the voices of First Nations and other Yukoners must be heard when making decisions about how these resources will be used.”

Larry Bagnell,
Member of Parliament, Yukon

“The Yukon government supports a robust, effective, efficient and transparent assessment regime. We are committed to working with the Government of Canada and First Nations on the YESAA legislation and its implementation. We want to move forward together in the spirit of reconciliation to benefit all Yukoners.”

Darrell Pasloski,
Premier of Yukon

“The CYFN is pleased to see that the Minister is willing to listen to Yukon First Nations and Yukoners and commit to work in partnership with us to address our concerns.  These amendments proposed in this bill to the YESAA will serve to uphold the integrity of the land claim agreements in the Yukon and ensure that the environmental assessment process in the Yukon is consistent with the principles and processes established in the Yukon First Nation Final Agreements.  We ask all Parliamentarians and Senators to pass this bill expeditiously.”

Ruth Massie,
Grand Chief, Council of Yukon First Nations

“The Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation and other self-governing Yukon First Nations support this bill. The land management processes established in our land claim agreement, including the YESAA that was developed jointly by the CYFN, Canada and Yukon, must be respected and implemented in accordance with our land claim agreements. We committed to work together and we are pleased to see Canada now working with us.”

Eric Fairclough,
Chief, Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation

“This is a step towards building a respectful relationship between our governments.  As self-governing First Nations, we are an essential part of decision making when it involves our territory. We will continue to strive for certainty and collaboration in the Yukon.”

Carl Sidney,
Nha Shade Heni, Teslin Tlingit Council

“We are gratified to see the Government of Canada is following through on its commitment to repeal the offending amendments to Yukon’s development assessment Act. The tabling of this new bill is an important milestone reaffirming that governing the land and water, and the implementation of YESAA, remain a joint responsibility of all governments.”

Steve Smith,
Chief, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations

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Contacts

Sabrina Williams
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
819-997-0002

Media Relations
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
819-953-1160

Dan Macdonald
Cabinet Communications
Government of Yukon
867-393-6470

Stephanie Brown
Communications Officer
Council of Yukon First Nations
867-393-9223
Communication.officer@cyfn.net

Jade McGinty
Communications Officer
Teslin Tlingit Council
867-390-2532 ext.306
Jade.McGinty@ttc-teslin.com

Amy McKinnon
Communications Manager
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations
867-332-1973
almckinnon@cafn.ca

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