Yukon Stories: Mining’s Unbalanced Influence in the North

March 3, 2014 | By admin | Filed in: Uncategorized.

In September 2013, MiningWatch’s Canada Program Coordinator,
Ramsey Hart, travelled to the Yukon. The trip north gave him
the opportunity to hear Yukoners’ stories – their concerns and
their vision of a sustainable future. Unfortunately the status
quo has mining interests maintaining an overwhelming influence
over government decision making and land use planning. That
said, Ramsey met people who are passionately challenging the
status quo. Sometimes they win, as the recent Ross River Dena
decision shows.

During his Yukon trip Ramsey met with representatives from
three First Nations, activists, and affected community members.
Ramsey conducted five video interviews (see below) that cover a
wide range of issues including the Peel Watershed, abandoned
mines being re-developed in Keno City, Kluane National Park,
the free entry system and more. Ramsey’s trip was made possible
by support from Canary Research Institute with funding from the
Small Change
Fund’s North of 55 program

Lewis Rifkin, Yukon Conservation Society

Lewis Rifkind, of the Yukon Conservation Society (YCS), calls
for the territory to impose higher royalties on current mining
production and investment in promoting economic activity that
would take advantage of the region’s outstanding parks and
recreational areas.

Yvonne Bessette, Keno City

Yvonne Bessette, a resident of Keno City, a historic mining
area with renewed activity, highlights the threats to water,
and the need for her and other citizens to be allowed to have a
voice in decision-making processes that affect their quality of

Mary Whitley, President of the Board, Yukon
Conservation Society

Mary Whitley, President of the YCS Board, talks about the
positive public consultation process undertaken to define the
future of the Peel Watershed, and the strong recommendations
that resulted. Her concerns that the territorial government
would undermine the final report and give greater weight to the
interests of the mining sector at the cost of public interest
have unfortunately become fact. There will be
legal challenges

Sally Wright, an artist and environmentalist

Sally Wright, an artist and environmentalist living near Kluane
National Park, draws attention to the encroachment of mining
activity on the Park and the Kluane Game Sanctuary, arguing
that the threat to the ecosystem – may be irreparable if the
area is not better protected.

Bob Van Dijken, environmentalist and activist

Bob Van Dijken, environmentalist and activist, calls for
greater consultation and shared decision-making with the
Yukon’s aboriginal communities. Citing the enormous burden on
the tax payer to do damage control on closed mine sites, Bob
wonders how the relatively small population of the Yukon will
shoulder this burden as future mine remediation becomes a
territorial responsibility.

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