Date: Oct. 03, 2016
Venue: Burwash Landing, Yukon
Grace Southwick, Acting Chief; Keith Johnson, Elder Councilor; Olivier Pellegrin, Executive Director; Chaofeng Zhang, minutes taker
Yukon Liberal Party:
Sandy Silver, Liberal Leader; David Morrison, Liberal Policy Chair;
Yukon Liberal Party initiated this meeting to introduce their policy platform and to address possible concerns or questions from Kluane First Nation.
Sandy started the meeting by reiterating Liberal’s commitment to convene Yukon Forum with First Nation governments on communities’ priorities and forge partnerships with First Nation governments to pursue economic development and environmental protection.
When asked about how to keep their promises to First Nation communities they make prior to election, Sandy suggested that a lot of Liberal members are from First Nation communities, they are the community member/ advocates and they can ensure the community’s expectations are on the government’s agenda. They will also bring more rural perspectives to the government.
On infrastructure front, Sandy believed it is not about building facilities such as continuing care centre, health centre or school only, but also to build a community, where the community members can stay in their community and do not have to move to Whitehorse or other community for certain services.
KFN Council was also concerned about Liberal’s mining policy. Sandy did not think the current government’s mining policy is working, and he elaborated his point by referring to the partnership between Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in and the mining company Kaminak, where First Nation government has its own expectations and plans when it comes to economic development opportunities, but Yukon government did not listen to the community or support them. With regard to the concern about clean-up costs left behind by mining companies, Sandy confirmed that companies have to pay reclamation deposit on time and they will be shut down if fail to do so.
When asked about Yukon’s economic forecast, Sandy shared the Conference Board of Canada’s forecast for Yukon’s economy in 2017, which is expected to be worse than the other two territories. He then advised that though there are factors that are beyond control such as world commodities price, Liberal government will work with First Nation government on developing industries such as mining and agriculture, and exploring opportunities through various channels such as trade shows along with Chiefs to showcase that Yukon is open for business.
On the question of what benefits would come from federal liberal government if Yukon Liberals wins the territorial election, Sandy advised that he has been working to create a healthy dialogue with Ottawa, and whichever party in power in the future, he will keep the dialogue going to ensure Yukoners’ concerns and messages can get across. Of course, the like-minded goals and targets can be helpful when building connections and creating dialogues.
Sandy also took the opportunity to introduce Yukon Liberal’s policy platform on other subjects such as land use planning, citing Eagle Plains as an example. He reiterated that as long as the First Nation communities are on board, the government should respect the decision and the democratic process. They will also remain open to different opinions and feedback from communities and opposition parties.