Posts Tagged ‘yukon wild rivers’

Supreme Court Response Expected Soon

Monday, June 6th, 2016

 

From www.protectpeel.ca, December, 2015

“On August 20 and 21, 2015 the Peel court case was heard at the Yukon Court of Appeal in Whitehorse. At this hearing, the Yukon Government argued that the Yukon Supreme Court ruling by Justice Ronald Veale be dismissed. The respondents (the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, CPAWS Yukon and YCS), supported through an intervention by the Gwich’in Tribal Council, defended against this appeal and argued that Justice Veale’s ruling be upheld.

On November 4, 2015 the Yukon Court of Appeal judgement was released. This ruling agreed that Yukon Government failed to honour its treaty obligations, that planning provisions in the Umbrella Final Agreement are binding on government, and that the government’s plan for the Peel Watershed is quashed. However, the remedy dictated by the Court of Appeal sends the matter back to an earlier stage in the process, which may allow government to modify the plan to increase access and development in the watershed.

On December 15, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nations, CPAWS-Yukon and YCS announced they are seeking leave to appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada. ”

 

Take Action to Protect the Peel Watershed

For the latest news, action alerts and background information on the campaign to protect the Yukon’s 68,000 km2 Peel Watershed, visit: www.protectpeel.ca  Protectpeel is loaded with images, video and the stories behind the conservation campaign. Find out what you need to know, and what you can do, to support Canada’s largest proposed protected area.

Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed: A Traveller’s Guide

… is your complete source for planning a trip to the Yukon’s vast north-eastern wilderness – and learning more about the natural and cultural history of this inspiring landscape. Published in 2008 by Juri Peepre and Sarah Locke, the book is available from bookstores (Mac’s Fireweed in Whitehorse (online: www.yukonbooks.com ),  Mountain Equipment Co-op (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto).

Wild Rivers is an essential companion to help you navigate all of the Three Rivers country (the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume), as well as the Peel, Hart, Ogilvie, Blackstone and Rat rivers. This well illustrated field reference will be a welcome gift for your friends or family who are thinking about a future northern canoeing or hiking trip. Full of wonderful stories and information, it’s a must-have campfire companion.

The book features detailed river descriptions, maps, landscape and historic photos, tips on river travel in the Peel region, and engaging descriptions of the flora, fauna, geology, human history and conservation story. For more information, see About Our Book posted in the right margin.

Peel Court Case Appeal to be Heard in August

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Excerpt from Yukon News, by Jacqueline Ronson Wednesday May 27, 2015

“The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation has joined the Tr’ondek Hwech’in, the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun and conservation groups in their legal battle with the Yukon government over the fate of the Peel watershed.

Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale struck down the Yukon government’s plan for the Peel after a court case last summer, ruling that it did not follow the process outlined in final agreements with First Nations.

The Yukon government is now appealing that decision. The case will be heard in August.

Vuntut Gwitchin joined the other First Nations as respondents in the appeal after a court hearing on Monday.”

“Our government has concerns regarding Yukon’s conduct during the later stages of the Peel planning process. We will continue to be vigilant to protect the integrity of our final and self-government agreements, including the regional land use planning provisions.”

“Such a ruling could inadvertently and unnecessarily thwart potential further legal action in the case, he said. The Yukon Land Use Planning Council also applied to act as an intervenor in the appeal.

Both the Yukon government and the respondents opposed the motion. The judge said he will make a decision on the issue in the coming weeks. The planning council could not be reached for comment by press time.”

For the full story:

http://www.yukon-news.com/news/vuntut-gwitchin-join-peel-appeal/

 

Take Action to Protect the Peel Watershed

For the latest news, action alerts and background information on the campaign to protect the Yukon’s 68,000 km2 Peel Watershed, visit: www.protectpeel.ca  Protectpeel is loaded with images, video and the stories behind the conservation campaign. Find out what you need to know, and what you can do, to support Canada’s largest proposed protected area.

Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed: A Traveller’s Guide

… is your complete source for planning a trip to the Yukon’s vast north-eastern wilderness – and learning more about the natural and cultural history of this inspiring landscape. Published in 2008 by Juri Peepre and Sarah Locke, the book is available from bookstores (Mac’s Fireweed in Whitehorse,  Mountain Equipment Co-op (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto), and on-line from www.yukonbooks.com.

Wild Rivers is an essential companion to help you navigate the Three Rivers country (the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume), as well as the Peel, Hart, Ogilvie, Blackstone and Rat rivers. This well illustrated field reference will be a welcome gift for your friends or family who are thinking about a future northern canoeing or hiking trip.

The book features detailed river descriptions, maps, landscape and historic photos, tips on river travel in the Peel region, and engaging descriptions of the flora, fauna, geology, human history and conservation story. For more information, see About Our Book posted in the right margin.

Peel Watershed Plan Released

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

First Nations & Conservationists Launch Lawsuit

The Peel Watershed Recommended Plan, based on years of research and consultations, called for protecting 80% of the Peel Watershed.  The Yukon Government rejected the Plan, with a unilateral decision to open 71% of the watershed to development.

“The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Na-Cho Nyak Dun, and Gwich’in Tribal Council are extremely disappointed by the Government of Yukon’s decision to scrap the Peel Watershed Planning Commission’s Final Recommended Plan. “This is a sad day for all Yukon First Nations and all Yukoners,” said Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief Eddie Taylor. “We had hoped that at the end of the day the Government of Yukon would do the right thing and accept the Final Recommended Plan.” Read more at:  http://protectpeel.ca/

Canadian Press

http://o.canada.com/news/yukon-government-sued-for-opening-peel-watershed-to-development/

Yukon News:

http://yukon-news.com/news/peel-lawsuit-to-be-filed-today/

Read the Peel Watershed land use plan released by the Yukon Government

http://www.emr.gov.yk.ca/lands/peel_watershed.html

 

"Endangered" Haruko Okano, 2004. Three rivers: wild waters, sacred places exhibition. Photo: Cathie Archbould

“Endangered” Haruko Okano, 2004. Three rivers: wild waters, sacred places exhibition.
Photo: Cathie Archbould

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Days in Campaign to Protect Peel Watershed

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

When I walked into a small Vancouver courtroom in 1992, the odds did not look good for the Bonnet Plume River. Facing the judge, a battery of stern-faced lawyers was ready to make the case for the federal government and the company that wanted to develop a mine beside the river.

Our legal team consisted of one lawyer, Stewart Elgie, with the Sierra Legal Defence Fund. He told me that our group, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, had a 50-50 chance of winning this particular fight. The case revolved around a 60-kilometre long winter road that had been bulldozed in to a large block of mining claims on the Bonnet Plume River. We had challenged the federal government’s environmental review of the project.

The Bonnet Plume was soon to be honoured as a Canadian Heritage River, thanks in large measure to the efforts of the Nacho Nyak Dun in their land claims negotiations, so at least some people out there thought this river was special. Yet the future of its clear waters and free-ranging caribou would be decided in a courtroom 2,500 kilometres away from this remote northern valley. Surely, I thought, we can’t delegate judgment on thousands of years of biological evolution and the destiny of a wild mountain river to a legal game of chance.

I had journeyed down many remote rivers before canoeing the Bonnet Plume in the summer of 1988, but I had never before experienced a watershed like this one. The aquamarine Bonnet Plume, with its sister rivers the Wind and Snake, carried in their crystal waters all the fascination of the Yukon wilderness. The space, infinite light, the escape from time itself, the never-ending gnarled and saw-toothed mountains, opened a new window on the meaning of wild.

Looking back now, I can see how that two-week journey changed my life. Growing up in a quiet town on the edge of the woods, I had always felt a kinship with nature, but here –on the Bonnet Plume — I realized that without help, extraordinary places like these would soon disappear, even in the Yukon.

In the early 1990s, when prospectors for Westmin Mining Corporation, exploring for copper, staked the flanks of the Bonnet Plume valley, they did so with the historic privileges afforded by the Yukon’s free-entry mining law, which grants powerful rights to those who first lay claim to the land. They knew they could knock down trees, bulldoze roads, dynamite, and utterly transform the land on their claims away from public scrutiny.

We wanted to take a closer look at Westmin’s operation and a generous local pilot donated the use of his two-seater Piper Cub. Soon I was up in the air, photographing the flattened spruce trees along the winter road leading to the airstrip and new mining camp. One corporation was on the verge of setting the direction for the Bonnet Plume valley. After seeing this giant scar on the landscape, I knew we could not accept surrendering this wild river to a money play in the southern penny market.  If this northern wilderness was to be diminished, where would we draw the next boundary for nature? It was time to confront the belief that mining exploration was exempt from environmental safeguards, and the only place we could do that was in the courts.

We lost that case on the weight of legal minutia, but we won an important point. The judge conceded the federal government was obliged to consider how mining could affect a Canadian Heritage River. Twelve years later, the airstrip, drill pads, and mining camp were long since abandoned — another legacy of the Yukon’s archaic frontier mining laws. The company found less copper than anticipated and metal prices dropped, so they packed up and left.  The company’s promised jobs and bright future for the Village of Mayo evaporated as quickly as the claims had been posted. For its part, the federal government realized its antiquated mining regulations, allowing for extensive exploration work without any environmental review, were no longer tenable. It dusted off long-awaited rules to improve the way mining companies carry out exploration work in the Yukon.

by Juri Peepre, excerpt from “Wild waters, sacred places” in Three Rivers: The Yukon’s Great Boreal Wilderness. Harbour Publishing, 2005.

 

Stories From the Peel Watershed

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Tough travellers on the Wind River

“After a day of cold rain, this campfire alongside the Wind River casts a welcome circle of warmth. While we huddle around the flames, Neil Colin roasts strips of dried duck, part of his stash of country food from home. Neil is a Tetl’it Gwich’in elder from Fort McPherson, NWT, a small community perched on the banks of the Peel River, surrounded by the stunted spruce and wetlands of the Peel plateau.

Those lowlands seem a world away from the rugged country through which we travel now. Across the river, the imposing profile of Royal Mountain occasionally breaks through the mist, dominating the ranks of mountains lining the river. All his life Neil has heard stories of this landmark and the traditional homeland surrounding it. It is where his ancestors once hunted caribou in the mountain valleys and stalked snowy white Dall sheep among the limestone peaks.

Goldrushers named Royal Mountain. They struggled up this route on their way to the Klondike, and some spent a winter further downstream in a bleak encampment dubbed Wind City. The Gwich’in helped them survive. They also guided the Royal Northwest Mounted Police on winter patrols by dog team through this country. The Tetl’it Gwich’in live more settled lives now, but ties to the land are still strong, as Neil makes clear while carving off chunks of roasted duck: 

“You live in Fort McPherson and it’s nothing there. Only RCMP, missionary. The only place you live good is up in the hills. Everybody made dried fish all summer, shoot ducks, shoot geese. We used to go way up to Timber Creek to get caribou; pack all of our meat with dogs down to the boat and back home! It’s the only way you live good. Out there on the land is where you live good.”   – as told by Sarah Locke, 2008

The bishop who ate his boots

One of the North’s most renowned missionaries, Bishop Isaac Stringer, was almost at death’s door when he stumbled into a Gwich’in camp on the Peel River at the end of a 51-day ordeal. In September, 1909, he and a companion had started up the Rat River with two native guides, headed for the Yukon River and Dawson City. They let their guides go once they crossed the mountains, but ended up abandoning their canoe on the Bell River as it froze early that year.

They tried to return to Fort McPherson, but lost their way in the mountains, ran out of ammunition, and were reduced to boiling the soles of the Bishop’s sealskin boots for sustenance. When they finally found help, they were close to the spot where the bodies of the Lost Patrol were found just over a year later.

Lost Patrol

In 1910, Sergeant Francis J. Fitzgerald of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police was selected to lead the annual winter dogsled patrol between Fort McPherson and Dawson. It was the first and last time that the patrols, which usually started in Dawson, were run in this direction.

Fitzgerald had travelled the 760-kilometre route once, but in the opposite direction and over a slightly different route. His four-member patrol set out from Fort McPherson on December 21, 1910, with a minimum of supplies. Fitzgerald made his second mistake on New Year’s Day, when he dismissed a Gwich’in man who had guided them for five days over the long overland section of the route. Fitzgerald was relying on another patrol member to find the route.

They struggled back towards Fort McPherson, eating their dogs as they went, and encountering severe weather; in Fort McPherson thermometers recorded temperatures as low as -60 Celsius. Still Fitzgerald clung to faint hope:

February 3: Men and dogs very thin and weak and cannot travel far. We have traveled about 200 miles on dog meat, and have still about 100 miles to go, but I think we will make it all right, but will have only three or four dogs left.

He made his last entry two days later. When the patrol did not arrive in Dawson, Corporal W.D. Dempster was sent to find them. He found the first two bodies 35 kilometres from Fort McPherson; both were emaciated, one had committed suicide. Fitzgerald and Carter made it another 10 kilometres before dying. The patrol members never learned that they had been selected to attend the coronation of George V in London the following year.

The Mad Trapper

Albert Johnson arrived in Fort McPherson in 1931, purchased a boat-load of supplies, and then headed for the Rat River where he built a small fortified cabin. After a Gwich’in complaint that he had been interfering with traps, the RCMP went to investigate, and the Mad Trapper of Rat River began to earn his name.

When two officers arrived at his cabin, Johnson refused to talk, so they returned with reinforcements and a search warrant. Johnson shot and wounded one of the four men. Even when the police returned with a larger group, they were unable to flush Johnson out of his cabin; finally they blew it up with dynamite. Johnson survived, and held them off for another day from a tunnel underneath his demolished cabin.

When the authorities retreated again to regroup, Johnson escaped, triggering one of the longest man hunts in RCMP history. The police pursued him by dog team for 48 days, crossing the Richardson Mountains in blizzards with temperatures dropping to -40 C. When they cornered him in a canyon, Johnson shot and killed an officer before climbing a cliff at night to escape again.

“The Arctic Circle War,” as it was known, had people across the continent glued to their radios. To catch Johnson, the RCMP enlisted the aid of famed pilot “Wop” May to track down the killer and resupply the pursuers. This was a first for the RCMP, as was their use of two-way radios in the field. They caught up with the fugitive along the Eagle River, where Johnson wounded another officer before he was shot to death.

Excerpts from Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed, 2008.

Government Releases Peel Consultation Results

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

The Yukon Government has released partial results from the extended public review of the proposed Peel watershed land use plan. This latest consultation wrapped up on February 25, after years of work by the Peel Watershed Land Use Planning Commission. After the widely supported recommended plan was set aside, the Yukon government released its own options for resource development and limited protection in the region.

All of the government’s land use options, developed behind closed doors, ignore the basic principles of conservation embodied in the Recommended Plan The results of the latest public review show continuing strong support for the original recommended plan as prepared by the Planning Commission—a proposal which would protect 80% of the Peel watershed.

 

To see the Yukon government’s media release and Yukon News coverage go to:

http://www.gov.yk.ca/news/13-077.html

http://www.yukon-news.com/news/32958/

To view the recommended plan and the Yukon government proposal:

http://www.peelconsultation.ca/

 

Take Action

For the latest news, action alerts and background information on the campaign to protect the Yukon’s 68,000 km2 Peel Watershed, visit: www.protectpeel.ca  Protectpeel is loaded with images, video and the stories behind the conservation campaign. Find out what you need to know, and what you can do, to support Canada’s largest proposed protected area.

 

Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed: A Traveller’s Guide

… is your complete source for planning a trip to the Yukon’s vast north-eastern wilderness – and learning more about the natural and cultural history of this inspiring landscape. Published in 2008 by Juri Peepre and Sarah Locke, the book is available from bookstores (Mac’s Fireweed in Whitehorse, Interior Books in Smithers), Mountain Equipment Co-op (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto), and on-line from www.yukonbooks.com.

Wild Rivers is an essential companion to help you navigate the Three Rivers country (the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume), as well as the Peel, Hart, Ogilvie, Blackstone and Rat rivers. This well illustrated field reference will be a welcome gift for your friends or family who are thinking about a future northern canoeing or hiking trip. The book features detailed river descriptions, maps, landscape and historic photos, tips on river travel in the Peel region, and engaging descriptions of the flora, fauna, geology, human history and conservation story. For more information, see About Our Book posted in the right margin.

 

Contact Us

To order the book directly from the authors, send a cheque or money order payable to Juri Peepre, 1575 Windermere Loop Road, Windermere, BC, V0B 2L2. Price: $24.95 + $1.19 GST + Shipping = $32.00 CDN. For US orders, please add $3.00 for additional shipping costs, for a total of $35.00 US. For more information, contact jpeepreatyahoodotca, or post your comment or question in this blog.

Yukon Government Reveals Peel Scheme

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

 

After setting aside the Final Recommended Plan prepared by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission, the Yukon government has released its own options for resource development and limited protection in the region. All of the government’s land use options, developed behind closed doors, ignore the basic principles of conservation embodied in the Recommended Plan. Instead the Yukon government wants to allow extensive roads, mining and oil and gas development in the ecological heart of the Peel watershed —going against the wishes of the Yukon public, First Nations, and tourism industry. The Yukon Party government appears willing to consider full protection in a few disjointed areas around the fringes of the Peel watershed, but not the core areas of the Wind and Bonnet Plume rivers.

The public review period for the Yukon government proposal ends on February 25, 2013.

 

To view the Yukon government proposal and send in your comments:
http://www.peelconsultation.ca/

To see the Yukon government’s media release and media coverage:
http://www.yukon-news.com/news/30746/
http://www.gov.yk.ca/news/12-197.html
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/10/23/north-yukon-peel-watershed.html

Take Action
For the latest news, action alerts and background information on the campaign to protect the Yukon’s 68,000 km2 Peel Watershed, visit: www.protectpeel.ca Protectpeel is loaded with images, video and the stories behind the conservation campaign. Find out what you need to know, and what you can do, to support Canada’s largest proposed protected area.

Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed: A Traveller’s Guide
… is your complete source for planning a trip to the Yukon’s vast north-eastern wilderness – and learning more about the natural and cultural history of this inspiring landscape. Published in 2008 by Juri Peepre and Sarah Locke, the book is available from Yukon outdoor and bookstores (Mac’s Fireweed), Mountain Equipment Co-op (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto), and on-line from www.yukonbooks.com.
Wild Rivers is an essential companion to help you navigate the Three Rivers country (the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume), as well as the Peel, Hart, Ogilvie, Blackstone and Rat rivers. This well illustrated field reference will be a welcome gift for your friends or family who are thinking about a future northern canoeing or hiking trip.

The book features detailed river descriptions, maps, landscape and historic photos, tips on river travel in the Peel region, and engaging descriptions of the flora, fauna, geology, human history and conservation story. For more information, see About Our Book posted in the right margin.

Contact Us
To order the book directly from the authors, send a cheque or money order payable to Juri Peepre, 1575 Windermere Loop Road, Windermere, BC, V0B 2L2. Price: $24.95 + $1.19 GST + Shipping = $32.00 CDN. For US orders, please add $3.00 for additional shipping costs, for a total of $35.00 US. For more information, contact jpeepreatyahoodotca, or post your comment or question in this blog.

Yukon Government Tosses Out Recommended Peel Watershed Plan

Thursday, February 16th, 2012
A Yukon Government media release says that “eight core principles will be used to guide modifications and completion of the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan.”
“The Yukon government continues to support an approach that balances access for industry and other users while establishing protection in key habitat areas in the Peel region. The principles will provide guidance for the timely completion of the remaining steps in this important land use planning process.”
The Yukon government will use these new principles “to guide strategic modifications to the draft Peel Plan”. The Government of Yukon principles are:
1. Special Protection for Key Areas
2. Manage Intensity of Use
3. Respect the First Nation Final Agreements
4. Respect the Importance of all Sectors of the Economy
5. Respect Private Interests
6. Active Management
7. Future Looking
8. Practical and Affordable
What Is the Yukon Government Saying?
At first glance, these principles may sound reasonable, but in fact they are aimed at converting the wild Peel watershed into a roaded, fragmented and developed landscape with a few “special” protected areas.
In response to this rejection of the recommended plan supported by First Nations and the public, CPAWS Yukon and the Yukon Conservation Society said they “condemn the Yukon government’s attempt to hijack the land-use planning process and open the Peel Watershed to industrial development.”
“… government imposed eight new principles designed to allow roads, uranium, coal and hard rock mining, and oil and gas development in one of the last intact boreal ecosystems on the continent.
“We hoped for more from the Pasloski government, but it is following the same unilateral approach used by the previous Fentie government,” said Mike Dehn, Executive Director of the Yukon Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “The government says it listens to the public, but then tosses out seven years of sound work and does what it wants.
“It is a reckless approach that puts government and the mining industry at odds with the wishes of the public and First Nations. That just provokes protests and, potentially long, drawn out lawsuits, which is poison to potential investors in the territory. This approach is not good for anyone.”
“Now, the government has concocted new principles, without any discussion with its partners, to simply gut a plan it doesn’t like.”
The CPAWS and YCS media release goes on to say that “the final Peel Watershed land-use plan reflects Yukoners’ overwhelming desire to see the region protected while allowing some economic development. The plan sets aside 55 per cent of the Peel Watershed as protected areas. Another 25 per cent of the region is assigned less secure interim ” Yukon government talks about balance, but the land-use planning commission has already produced a balanced plan,” said Karen Baltgailis, Executive Director of the Yukon Conservation Society. “It not only balances interests in the Peel, but counterbalances rampant development happening throughout the territory.”
“The public has been waiting for government to respond to the final Peel plan for months. Now, in the face of widespread public support for a wild Peel, government is trying to gut the process in an underhanded way,” said Dehn. “In doing so, the government threatens to undermine the established land-use planning process, which, in turn, would damage investor confidence in the territory as a safe place to invest.”

Distant alpine ridges beckon in the Hart River wilderness. J. Peepre

Peel Watershed Decision Expected in 2012

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

The politics of the Peel – what was said in the Yukon legislature in December, 2011:

Mr. Tredger (NDP Official Opposition):  “The Peel is one of the last remaining pristine watersheds in the world. The Final Recommended Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan recommended full and interim protection of 80 percent of the Peel watershed. Affected First Nations, nearby communities and the majority of Yukoners have, in the spirit of compromise, accepted this balanced plan. In January 2010, the Yukon government signed a letter of understanding with their First Nation partners. This letter had a series of timelines on when further consultations would take place and stated that a final decision would be reached in November 2011. These timelines have been missed. What is this government’s plan to get the Peel land use planning process back on track”?

Hon. Mr. Cathers (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources):  “The Yukon government is committed to following the process. I would remind the member that the Yukon government, under the Umbrella Final Agreement, has a duty to take that final recommended plan to determine where we believe it can be made better and then engage in a final round of public consultation. That’s exactly what we’re going to do”.

[The final round of public consultations is expected in the spring of 2012, but the Yukon Party government has already said it rejects the Recommended Plan, and declared it supports industrial development in the Peel watershed, as shown again by the Minister’s comments below.]

“We believe that debate over the Peel planning process has become unnecessarily polarized and politicized. The debate has also at times lost touch with reality. It’s time to shift the debate from whether to protect the environment in the Peel to how to best protect the environment of the Peel while allowing responsible use. We believe that most Yukoners actually share common values. Yukoners value wilderness beauty and healthy ecosystems, but also want a strong, diversified economy that provides employment for their friends, families and communities”.

[In fact, public opinion surveys show strong public support for protecting 80% of the Peel watershed – First Nations, affected communities near the Peel, and the public do not want industrial development in the Peel, but do support responsible resource use outside the watershed. The Yukon Party is out of touch with public opinion and affected First Nations aspirations, and that is why the debate is cast as “polarized and politicized’.]

“We are … also committing to extending the moratorium on staking until September 2012”.

[This is a positive decision that will allow the final consultations and decisions to be made without the spectacle of a simultaneous staking rush in the Peel watershed. However, the moratorium would be more effective if extended until 2013.]

Northern sun on Wernecke Mountains - J. Peepre

Take Action

For the latest news, action alerts and background information on the campaign to protect the Yukon’s 68,000 km2 Peel Watershed, visit: www.protectpeel.ca Protectpeel is loaded with images, video and the stories behind the conservation campaign. Find out what you need to know, and what you can do, to support Canada’s largest proposed protected area.

Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed: A Traveller’s Guide

… is your complete source for planning a trip to the Yukon’s vast north-eastern wilderness – and learning more about the natural and cultural history of this inspiring landscape. Published in 2008 by Juri Peepre and Sarah Locke, the book is available from Yukon outdoor and bookstores (Mac’s Fireweed, Up North Adventures), Mountain Equipment Co-op (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto), and on-line from www.yukonbooks.com.

Wild Rivers is an essential companion to help you navigate the Three Rivers country (the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume), as well as the Peel, Hart, Ogilvie, Blackstone and Rat rivers. This well illustrated field reference will be a welcome gift for your friends or family who are thinking about a future northern canoeing or hiking trip.

The book features detailed river descriptions, maps, landscape and historic photos, tips on river travel in the Peel region, and engaging descriptions of the flora, fauna, geology, human history and conservation story. For more information, see About Our Book posted in the right margin.

Contact Us

To order the book directly from the authors, send a cheque or money order payable to Juri Peepre, 1575 Windermere Loop Road, Windermere, BC, V0B 2L2. Price: $24.95 + $2.99 HST + Shipping = $33.00 CDN. For more information, contact jpeepreatyahoodotca or post your comment or question in this blog.

Ancient Peoples of the Peel

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

 

Geologic artistry in the canyon country of the Hart River.  J Peepre.

In traditional times, the rewards of life on the land were hard won. People travelled great distances to survive, carrying their livelihoods with them as they hunted, and shaping their lives to the ways of the animals on which they depended.  They fashioned all they needed—weapons, boats, cooking utensils, even boats– from stone, wood and the many different parts of caribou and other animals. Home was where the animals were—the winter hunt camps, the summer fish camps.

For the Tetl’it Gwich’in, the Peel was the centre of their world. They called it Teetl’it njik, meaning “along the head of the waters.” Tetl’it Gwich’in means “people who live at the head of the waters.” They were mountain people, hunting caribou throughout the valleys of the Richardson and Ogilvie mountains for most of the year. In summer, they descended to the Peel River and fished.

Other First Nations also travelled the mountains and valleys of this vast region during their yearly cycles. The Nacho Nyak Dun are “big river people,” and live on the banks of the Stewart River in Mayo, Yukon, south of the Wernecke Mountains. They are the most northern of the Yukon’s Tutchone First Nations, and their lives are oriented mainly towards the Yukon River, which runs roughly through the middle of Tutchone traditional territory.

But the Peel watershed has always been important to them as well. They would climb into the Wernecke and Ogilvie Mountains to snare Dall sheep as its meat was a special delicacy, and its supple soft skins were used for making children’s clothing. When barren-ground caribou wintered in the Peel watershed, the word would spread and they travelled over the mountains to hunt them. In more recent times, Nacho Nyak Dun also trapped and prospected in the Peel watershed.

Their life revolved around chinook salmon, which spawn every summer in the Stewart, a tributary of the Yukon River, which has the world’s longest run of migrating chinook salmon. In traditional times, the late summer runs of spawning salmon were immense—a natural spectacle on a par with the movement of the great herds of barren-ground caribou. At favoured fish camps, such as Fraser Falls, the Nacho Nyak set up weirs and wove funnel-shaped fish traps out of willow branches. Everyone stayed busy catching, cleaning and drying fish—setting aside large quantities of dried salmon for winter.

The seasonal round was similar for the Tr’ondek Hwech’in—“people of the river” in their Han language. They now live in Dawson City, where the annual run of salmon on the Yukon River is still a seasonal highlight. In fall the Han used to move north to hunt, trap and pick berries, and their traditional territory includes parts of the Hart River watershed and the entire Ogilvie and Blackstone river drainages.

 

(adapted from Wild Rivers of the Peel Watershed, 2008)