• Dave Weir

The Elephant in the Room

Hi, I’m Dave Weir.

I’m here today in the traditional territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.

I want to talk about the elephant in the room.

In Haines Junction municipal boundaries and systemic racism stop a significant chunk of our community from being able to vote or run a representative in municipal elections.

In the Yukon we are 30 odd years behind on Land Use Plans that were guaranteed in the Umbrella Final Agreement. In other words, failing to live up to our treaty obligations isn’t just something our ancestors did, it’s something we are doing right now.

I listened last night to people talking about how the existing treaties are working just fine. Have we forgotten the 3 First Nations in this territory that have NOT signed treaties? Are the citizens of the Liard, Ross River and White River First Nations somehow less important?

Reconciliation is key to a prosperous and equitable future in the Yukon. For non-First Nation Yukoners like me, reconciliation needs to begin with recognizing our own place in history and in the present.

All too often, consultation is done to justify decisions that have already been made. The last few weeks alone have seen failure to consult lawsuits launched by both the Na-cho Nyak Dun and the Carcross Tagish First Nation. Consent is needed as a cornerstone in the effort towards further reconciliation.

There are many advantages to living in a territory blessed with 14 different First Nations.

Economically the advantages of First Nation development corporations and the direct good jobs provided by First Nations are huge to our communities.

Culturally, we have the opportunity to learn from each other’s culture, to learn from the world view embedded in another language.

The Yukon has the opportunity to lead on modern treaties; we enjoy far better working relationships with First Nations than the provinces do.

If we choose to focus on the negative, we will falter.

Instead, we can choose to focus on the positive, our common ground, the things we can learn from each other.

This is how we will come together, how we will become our greatest selves.

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