Kaska reconciliation talks progressing, Yukon government says
Negotiations with Ross River Dena and Liard First Nations resume in Vancouver
The Yukon government says reconciliation talks with the Ross River Dena and Liard First Nations are progressing.
The two Yukon Kaska groups have been in legal disputes with government since land claim talks broke down almost 15 years ago.
Now the government says the latest lawsuit on the duty to consult First Nations with traditional territories that overlap the B.C. border has been conceded. It was scheduled for trial last week. The issue is now added to the closed-door reconciliation agenda. Yukon government lawyer Mark Radke says the reconciliation talks have been ongoing for months.
"I think it's fair to say the government is making a genuine effort here, they are certainly putting resources into it and from my perspective been very much engaged in trying to come to better terms with the Kaska," he said.
Negotiations resume today
Kaska lawyer Steve Walsh points out it was court action that forced the government into negotiations. "The Kaska would much rather spend their time around the bargaining table than paying me to go to court on their behalf."
The Yukon Government says its head of aboriginal affairs Stephen Mills will represent government when bargaining resumes today in Vancouver.
"You know we been having some very good discussions and is very good news for everyone because it moves us out of a litigious environment and into an environment that creates a good government to government relationship," he said.
Mills said talks with the Kaska are still at the exploratory stage while similar reconciliation talks with the White River First Nation are more advanced. He said those talks could be concluded in a matter of months.