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Bernard Valcourt maintains Yukon First Nations are not government

‘The umbrella agreement is clear that government is defined as either Canada or Yukon,’ said Bernard Valcourt during questioning in the aboriginal affairs House of Commons committee yesterday.

'They are governments, but not under the umbrella agreement,' Valcourt said

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt is not budging from his stance that Yukon First Nations are not governments. 'The umbrella agreement is clear that government is defined as either Canada or Yukon.' (Chris Wattie/Pool/The Canadian Press)

During questioning in the aboriginal affairs House of Commons committee, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt didn't budge from his stance that Yukon First Nations are not governments.

"Their argument is that they should be, under the umbrella agreement, considered as governments. Unfortunately, that was not the deal concluded. The umbrella agreement is clear that government is defined as either Canada or Yukon,” Valcourt said.

“That does not mean that they are not governments. They are governments, but not under the umbrella agreement."

Yukon chiefs say they were insulted when Valcourt told them Yukon First Nations are not governments during a meeting in Ottawa to discuss their opposition to Bill S-6, the federal legislation that would amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.

Valcourt’s statement yesterday is certain to inflame the Yukon Coalition of First Nations, which has already threatened a lawsuit over Bill S-6.

Valcourt told the House of Commons earlier this week that First Nations are “welcome to use the courts” if they feel the duty to consult has not been met.

Little Salmon Carmacks chief Eric Fairclough says Valcourt’s stance is wrong-headed .

"Why did the Yukon government or Canada sign the land claims agreement if they don't agree with the provision or intent of these provisions?”

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