Peel supporters vow to take case to Supreme Court if needed

“We're not backing down. We have no choice. Our back is to the wall," Na-Cho Nyak Dun Chief Ed Champion told a crowd of 100 Peel supporters at a public meeting in Whitehorse.

'We're not backing down,' Na-Cho Nyak Dun Chief Ed Champion tells public meeting

Relaxing in the alpine terrain above the Hart River. (Juri Peepre)

About 100 supporters of the Peel coalition came out in Whitehorse last night to talk about the Yukon government's appeal of the ruling.

The territorial government is appealing the decision on the land use plan handed down by Yukon Supreme Court but people vow they'll carry on with the fight for the watershed.

Coalition members say they'll carry on the fight for the Peel plan as recommended by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission. (CBC)

“We're not backing down. We have no choice. Our back is to the wall," said Na-Cho Nyak Dun Chief Ed Champion, capturing the mood of many at last night's meeting.

Besides those in the audience, people were linked via the internet from Dawson City and Mayo.

Champion told the crowd the First Nations see this as an attack on the final agreements.

He also vowed to carry on the fight for the Peel plan as recommended by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission.

"The term democracy was introduced by the premier, and there's many ways of defining that term, but it seems that he badly abused it," said Dave Loeks, the former chair of the planning commission.

Dave Loeks, former chair of the Peel Watershed Land Use Planning Commission, says the premier should not be describing the process as democratic. (CBC)

Linda Leon wondered when voters could make their displeasure known.

"When is the next election?"

Ed Schultz says the Yukon government has ignored the intent of the final agreements.

"We've devoted a lot of time and effort and multimillions of dollars that we spent as native people and taxpayers did too, Yukoners and federal people, to come to an agreement so that we could plan our Yukon."

The coalition told the audience that it has faith in its lawyers and its case. But members also said they would take it to the Supreme Court of Canada if the appeal court overturns the Yukon court's decision.

Roberta Joseph is chief of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

"We feel strongly that we are going to win this case. And we hope at that time, Yukon government will realize that it's time to sit at the table and work in partnerships with First Nations instead of wasting taxpayers' money," she said. 

The coalition told the meeting they believe the appeal court will hear the case sometime early this summer.

It's expected to be a one-day hearing.


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