Protecting the Peel: The Fight Continues
Last year, the Yukon Supreme Court ruled the territory’s government had not consulted sufficiently with Yukon First Nations regarding its plan to develop up to 70 percent of the Peel Watershed.
It was a landmark victory in the long-term effort to protect this natural refuge—a core area for wildlife habitat and the northern anchor of the Yellowstone to Yukon vision. The ruling said, in effect, that the government must re-conduct its consultations with local First Nations. With the Yukon government now appealing that decision, it set off another stage of court battles, leading to another hearing this summer.
Y2Y is continuing to support our partners in the region—Yukon Conservation Society and CPAWS-Yukon—as they work alongside local First Nations, the Nacho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Vuntut Gwitchin during ongoing legal proceedings.
The hearings could play a key role in deciding the future of this critically important natural area—especially if a strong show of public support for the Peel adds a dimension to the proceedings that the courtroom cannot ignore.
Thomas Berger, the renowned lawyer representing the Peel partners in the case, is confident the Yukon Supreme Court decision will be upheld and the appeal dismissed.
“Yukon [government] was at pains to flout the approval process from the time it received the Commission’s Final Recommended Plan in July 2011,” he argued during proceedings, adding that the government simply “ignored” the approval process once they started receiving repeated objections from local First Nations who would be affected by increased development.
To shine a light on the proceedings and to garner more public support for protecting the Peel, a ceremony was held at the Whitehorse Courthouse on August 20. At the event, participants brought water from all six major rivers in the Peel Watershed, which was combined and poured together into the Yukon River.
Stay tuned to the Protect the Peel website for more updates from the proceedings.