Gwich'in Tribal Council seeks intervenor status in Peel case
Yukon government 'breached the treaty obligations that they're under,' lawyer says
The Gwich'in Tribal Council is seeking intervener status in the Peel Watershed case at the Supreme Court of Canada, though it's not clear whether Canada's top court will hear the case.
The application was filed this week.
Lawyer Jeff Langlois says the Gwich'in Tribal Council, based in Inuvik, N.W.T., wants to support Yukon First Nations. The GTC had intervener status at the first trial and at the first appeal.
"First, they're looking for permission to participate as an intervener should permission be granted to the Yukon First Nations to appeal the Yukon Court of Appeal's decision," he said.
"The second thing they're looking to do is really to support the Yukon First Nations' application for permission to appeal the decision."
Langlois said the Court of Appeal decision basically gives the Yukon Government a do-over in the Peel land use planning process.
The GTC is concerned the judgement doesn't support reconciliation.
"There are things to celebrate in the [appeal] judgement but there is a very cold, hard practical reality that the court has agreed Yukon has breached their duties and breached the treaty obligations that they're under," Langlois said
In their application, the GTC says the Tetlit Gwich'in Council, based in Fort McPherson, N.W.T., has a direct interest in the case because they have hunting, fishing and trapping rights in the Peel, which are enshrined in a transboundary agreement.
The Tetlit Gwich'in also hold fee simple title to more than 1,500 square kilometres of land in the Peel Watershed.
The Yukon Government is urging the Supreme Court to not hear the case, arguing there is no issue of national or public importance at stake.
The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will hear the case.