The Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan has been finalized nearly 15 years after the Peel Watershed Planning Commission was formed.
Leaders from the governments of Yukon, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council gathered today in Mayo, Yukon to officially sign the plan and celebrate their shared accomplishment. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada Catherine McKenna also joined in the historic signing ceremony, which took place on the Traditional Territory of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun.
The plan will guide future use of land and resources in the Peel Watershed Planning Region, 67,431 square kilometres of ecologically sensitive land in Northeastern Yukon that is home to at-risk wildlife such as the threatened boreal woodland caribou.
The planning region is divided into 16 land management units which are designated either Special Management Area (55 per cent), Wilderness Area (25 per cent), Wilderness Area – Boreal Caribou (three per cent) or Integrated Management Area (17 per cent). Each land management unit has specific recommendations pertaining to land use, conservation and monitoring. This land use plan will allow for responsible land use while ensuring ecologically sensitive areas in the watershed are protected for the benefit of future generations.
The five governments involved committed to jointly implement recommendations in the plan and to establish a committee to provide advice on implementation and monitoring on both First Nations’ settlement lands and non-settlement Land.
Finalizing the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan is an historic moment for Yukon that reflects respectful collaboration between First Nations and the Government of Yukon. Our government committed to accepting the final recommended plan and we are honoured to deliver on that commitment for the benefit of all Yukoners. With our First Nations partners, we stand together for the Peel and celebrate this significant accomplishment.
Premier Sandy Silver
This is truly a great day. I am tempted to think that my work as Chief is over; that I can kick back now and fade into oblivion knowing that my people have a sanctuary for future generations. But in truth, the real work is just beginning. Today, we have to begin to work with the Government of Yukon and our fellow First Nations to collaboratively implement the Peel Land Use Plan. And so, I say to the young aspiring Chiefs among us; Don’t worry. You didn’t miss the party. The most important work to protect the Peel is just beginning.
First Nation of Na-cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn
The Commission, the Courts and the People have spoken on this long journey as we the parties have now reached agreement. A year ago we endeavoured to complete, approve and implement this Peel Watershed plan by consensus and that to me is not only a prime example of reconciliation, but of the intent of our final agreements. In collaboratively reaching our 8 goals in the plan we have fulfilled our obligations to my people, Yukoners, Canadians and to future generations. We have always been committed and true to the rights, titles and interests in our final agreements throughout this process and my people are happy to see meaningful conclusion in a good way on such integral lands. My heartfelt appreciation goes out to everyone who had a hand in the plan’s completion. Mahsi’ Cho.
Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm
Signing the Peel Regional Land Use plan completes our journey to defend the integrity of our agreements and the promise of collaborative processes made during the land claims process. It also protects an area of value to First Nations people, and I am so pleased the pristine nature of this landscape will exist for our citizens yet to come. A debt of gratitude is owed to all our partners and past leaders who believed in the honour of our treaties.
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief Roberta Joseph
The Gwich’in have always wanted to protect and maintain their close and sacred relationship to the Peel Watershed, a relationship that has existed for time immemorial through our ancestors. It is important that the Gwich’in, the Government of Yukon and Northern Yukon First Nations found common ground and worked together to achieve a final Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan that is in the best interest of our future generations. The Peel Watershed is priceless - protecting it for the future is the right thing to do. The Gwich’in are pleased that in doing so, our Indigenous treaty rights and interests are being honoured and upheld.
Gwich’in Tribal Council Grand Chief and President Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan
The Peel Watershed Planning Region is a 67,431 square kilometre area located in northern Yukon.
The region drains 14 per cent of Yukon’s territory into the Arctic Ocean through the Mackenzie River Delta.
The Peel watershed is a delicate ecological region used by migratory wildlife including the threatened boreal woodland caribou. Grizzly bears, moose, Dall sheep and wolves are some of the large mammals that live in the region.
The Government of Yukon and five First Nations governments signed a letter of understanding on August 1, 2018, to work collaboratively to finish the plan. They worked together, guided by the Final Agreements, the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement and the Supreme Court of Canada to finalize the plan.
The plan was produced by a public planning commission through Chapter 11 of the Yukon First Nation Final Agreements.
The approved plan introduces a new type of landscape management unit named the Wilderness Area-Boreal Caribou. These are areas designated specifically to address Yukon’s obligations under the federal Species at Risk Act to protect boreal caribou habitat.
This is the second regional land use plan approved in Yukon. The North Yukon Land Use Plan was approved in 2009. Work on the Dawson Regional Land Use Plan is underway.
Government of Yukon
First Nation of Na-cho Nyäk Dun
Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
Communications, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in
Gwich’in Tribal Council