Liberals Must Respect Rights of Kaska First Nations

Liberal government’s decision to approve mine site violates rights of Kaska First Nations. 

Two weeks ago, the Liberal government approved the Kudz Ze Kayah mine, which is located on the territory of the Ross River Dena and Liard First Nations.

At every step, there have been red flags with this project – not least of which is the lack of free, prior, and informed consent from the affected First Nation governments.

This decision is yet another in a long history of the Yukon government’s complete lack of respect for the rights and sovereignty of Kaska First Nations.

Since the beginning stages of this project, both the Ross River Dena and Liard First Nations chiefs have expressed concerns – from the fragile caribou herd to the risks of violence against Indigenous women near the mine site.

But the Yukon government kept pushing forward, refusing to acknowledge the rights of the Ross River Dena and Liard First Nations.

In a press release that was quietly put out after the decision, the Premier even proudly claimed that he was “pleased to see another responsible mine project advance”.

“Consultation is not consent. For a government that applauds themselves on working with First Nations, this decision flies in the face of the rights of First Nations, as laid out in UNDRIP. Without consent from First Nations, approving this mining project is the furthest thing from ‘responsible’”.

– Kate White, Leader of the Yukon NDP

For years, this government has shown Yukon First Nations and the public that when there is money to be made, Indigenous rights come second.

If this government is as serious about reconciliation with Yukon First Nations as they claim to be, how can they approve a project that both affected First Nations oppose?