The Yukon government and the Kaska Nation have signed a "milestone" agreement, laying the groundwork for negotiations over economic and resource development in southeast Yukon.
The framework agreement follows months of reconciliation talks between the territorial government, the Ross River Dena Council, the Kaska Dena Council and the Liard First Nation.
The deal commits the government and First Nations to working together on land and resource management, and lays out a process for negotiations. Despite the agreement, however, both sides still claim ownership over the land and resources in southeast Yukon.
Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski said the deal marks a "renewed relationship" between the government and the Kaska, after years of legal battles. Land claim negotiations between the territory and First Nations broke down 15 years ago.
Liard First Nation chief Daniel Morris said in a statement that the agreement is "a real opportunity to achieve a future agreement that ensures we are full partners in all stages of any development and receive our rightful share of the benefits."
One of the issues the government hopes to settle under the new deal is where mineral staking could be allowed in the Ross River area. A moratorium has been in place since December 2013, after an appeal court ruled in Ross River's favour. The First Nation had challenged the government's right to issue mining claims on its territory.
Under the deal, the Yukon government has also promised the Kaska $3.55 million over five years for a number of economic development initiatives, as well as consultation and negotiations.
The framework agreement was formally signed Monday morning at the Mineral Exploration Roundup conference in Vancouver.