The Yukon Supreme Court has ordered the federal government to begin negotiations with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation over its transboundary land claim in Yukon.

The Atlin, B.C.-based First Nation filed suit in 2014, asking the court to protect lands it has claimed in Yukon.

Yukon Justice Ron Veale's ruling says the federal government agreed to negotiate a land claim agreement with the First Nation in 1984. 

Most of the claim is in B.C., but about eight per cent is in Yukon — including all of the land about 100 kilometers southeast of Whitehorse around Little Atlin Lake, from Tagish to Jake's Corner.

The First Nation argued that Ottawa has not followed through with promises to negotiate a treaty, and control of the land was devolved to the Yukon government in 2003.

Atlin Lake

Atlin Lake, within the traditional territory of the Taku River Tlingit. In 2014, the Yukon government announced plans to build a new campground on Atlin Lake, prompting the First Nation to file suit. Plans for the campground are now on hold. (Yukon Government)

The Yukon portion became contentious after the territorial government decided to build a campground at Atlin Lake, within the First Nation's traditional territory. The First Nation says the federal government has an obligation to protect the First Nation's interests both in B.C. and Yukon, until the claims can be settled.

The federal government had planned to settle the B.C. claim first, but Veale ruled that there is no reason to delay the transboundary negotiations.

Veale said Ottawa has not been dealing with the First Nation honourably. He said Ottawa must negotiate, but left the details up to the parties.