Supreme Court of Canada to hear case on Yukon’s Peel Watershed

Photo: Peter Mather
Photo: Peter Mather

Whitehorse – On June 9, the Supreme Court of Canada gave notice that it will be hearing The First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun et al v Government of Yukon, otherwise known as the Peel Watershed case.

The case will be heard in Ottawa after leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was submitted by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, CPAWS Yukon and the Yukon Conservation Society in December 2015.

“We signed our Final Agreements with Canada and the Government of Yukon in 1993, and we came to the table again in good faith for the Peel Watershed consultations,” said Chief Simon Mervyn of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun. “We are pleased that Canada’s highest court recognizes the legally binding nature of these agreements and the national significance of this case.”

The Peel Watershed is home to the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, and the Tetlit Gwich’in Council, and one of the largest unspoiled natural areas in North America.

“The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to hear this case shows that they recognize the value of the Peel Watershed,”  said Chris Rider, Executive Director of CPAWS Yukon. “It is a treasure of international significance and it deserves protection. Beyond this, the final ruling will set a precedent for all future land use planning in the Yukon and the significance of that cannot be underestimated.”

At 68,000 square kilometres, the Peel is larger than the entire province of Nova Scotia. Six rivers flow through the landscape into the Peel River, which empties into the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie River Delta. Grizzly bears, wolves and caribou roam freely; migratory birds find sanctuary in the wetlands; and rare plant populations thrive.

“We congratulate our partners in the Yukon and look forward to continuing our support for their work to protect the world-class ecological and cultural values of the Peel watershed,” said Candace Batycki, BC and Yukon Program Director for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.”The Peel is the northern anchor of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor, a place of true wildness where grizzlies, wolves, caribou and thousands of other species continue their age-old relationships.”

Local First Nations and environmental groups have launched a new Peel Pledge to support their work in protecting the Peel Watershed.

Learn more at www.protectpeel.ca.

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