Yukon First Nations hold Liberals to S-6 promise

Yukon First Nation chiefs are welcoming the election of a new Liberal government in Ottawa. They expect the new government to keep its promise to repeal controversial amendments to Yukon's Environmental and Socio-economic Act.

Lawsuit would be dropped if new government repeals legislation, one chief says

From left: Steve Smith, chief of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations; Eric Fairclough, chief of Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, and Carl Sidney, chief of the Teslin Tlingit Council, announcing their lawsuit against the federal government on Oct. 14. (Nancy Thomson/CBC)

Yukon First Nations leaders say they're pleased with Monday's election outcome, and they now expect action to repeal Bill S-6.

The Conservative government legislation, passed earlier this year, amends Yukon's Environmental and Socio-economic Act. Yukon First Nations fought the bill, saying it undermines their final agreements. Just days before the election, three First Nations launched a court challenge.

The Liberals, however, ran on a campaign that promised to repeal the offending legislation.

"We're going to hold them to their commitment," said Eric Fairclough, chief of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation. It's one of the First Nations named in the suit against the federal government.

Fairclough also signaled that the lawsuit could be shelved.

"It could really mean we'd be saving the taxpayers a whole lot of money, by not going through the major court system," he said.

Fairclough was among the celebrants at Yukon Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell's victory party on election night. Steve Smith, chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, and Kwanlin Dün Chief Doris Bill were also there.

"Feels like we've got our country back," Smith said, calling the Liberal win "uplifting."

Bill agreed and said the election may mark a "turning point" for aboriginal people.

"First Nations people across the country, indigenous people across the country, came out in droves, I believe," Bill said.

"I think we made a difference."

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