Yukon First Nation leaders worried about impact of hydro dams

The Yukon Development Corp. is consulting with First Nations about the future of hydro development this week but there are concerns about how another dam could affect communities. The corporation is reviewing 10 possible locations.

Yukon Development Corp. is reviewing 10 possible sites for hydro generation project

Yukon First Nation leaders worried are about the environmental effects of potential hydro dams (The Canadian Press)

The Yukon Development Corporation is consulting with First Nations about the future of hydro development this week but there are concerns about potential impacts on communities.

The corporation is reviewing ten possible locations for a future hydro generation project. 

Some First Nation leaders are worried about how a hydro dam would affect their people.

Jerry Kruse, chair of the Selkirk Renewable Resource Council, feels uneasy about the ecosystem in the Yukon.

Fraser Falls, in Na-Cho Nyak Dun traditional territory, is one of the possible sites. Kruse says if there is hydro development, communities may never be the same.

"People live and always have through all generations along the river. So every part of the river that you flood, you're destroying all that history, tradition, culture, it's gone by the wayside."

Frank Patterson, chair of the Mayo Renewable Resource Council, says the current dam at Mayo has several problems.

He says the future of his people could be at stake if another dam is developed.

“Fraser Falls is near and dear to the First Nations heart. Traditionally, we as First Nations need our fish. It's in our food chain. We as First Nations have to plan ahead 35 to 50 years also because we've got our needs from the land.”

Patterson and other First Nation leaders think are alternatives to energy production that wouldn't involve flooding traditional lands.

He says planning ahead is good but traditional first nation land must be preserved.

"The Hess River is full of plants and moose and caribou and we really need the fish. So that's why I'm not really in for that specific area.”

The Yukon Development Corporation will continue to research and consult with First Nations before eventually making a recommendation to the government on possible hydro sites.


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the traditional territory affected by the proposed Fraser Falls hydro site.
    Jan 30, 2015 11:45 AM CT


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