yukon

That Time Trudeau Announced $360 Million for Roads to Yukon Mines That Haven't Been Approved Yet

Justin Trudeau Yukon Gateway Resources Announcement

In early September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more than $360 million in funding for roads to service mining operations in two remote regions of the Yukon.

There’s just one catch: most of those mines haven’t even been approved yet.  

Some worry the influx of investment — $247 million from the federal government and $112 million from the territory — handcuffs the region to mining development that hasn’t been demonstrated to serve the community’s long-term interests.

Don Reid, conservation zoologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada, said the timing of the announcement is problematic and calls the objectivity of the mine review process into question.

After the Mining Rush: A Visit to Faro Mine, One of Canada’s Costliest, Most Contaminated Sites

Faro Mine

The Yukon's giant Faro Mine was once the world’s largest open-pit lead and zinc mine.

In operation from 1969 to 1998, when its last owner declared bankruptcy, the mine once generated more than 30 per cent of the Yukon's economic activity.

Now, Faro Mine is considered the second-worst contaminated site in Canada.

Meet the First Nation Above the Arctic Circle That Just Went Solar

Solar panels in Old Crow, Yukon

Across Canada’s north, diesel has long been the primary mode of providing year-round electricity to remote communities — but with the advent of small-scale renewables, that’s about to change.

Northern communities were already making strides toward a renewable energy future, but with $400 million committed in this year’s federal budget to establish an 11-year Arctic Energy Fund, energy security in the north has moved firmly into the spotlight.

This level of support shows positive commitment from the Canadian government on ending fossil fuel dependency in Indigenous communities and transitioning these communities to clean energy systems,” said Dave Lovekin, a senior advisor at the Pembina Institute.

Battle to Protect Northern Yukon, Home of Pristine Peel Watershed, From Industry Heads to Supreme Court

Wind River in the Peel Watershed. Photo by Peter Maher

Almost 40 years ago, former federal judge Thomas Berger issued a final report in the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, at the time Canada’s longest, largest and most comprehensive industrial project review.

The massive two-volume report was the product of exhaustive consultations between 1974 and 1977 with Dene, Métis and Inuit peoples, and recommended that the proposed construction of a gas pipeline be delayed for a full decade in the Northwest Territories and permanently barred from the Northern Yukon as it would “entail irreparable environmental losses of national and international importance.”

It turned out to be an incredibly pivotal moment in the history of Indigenous rights and ecological protections in Canada, arguably helping to preserve the largely pristine Northern Yukon, Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea for the decades since.

And on March 22, 2017 — a single day before his 84th birthday — Berger will fight another battle on behalf of the region, this time representing three Yukon First Nations (Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, Na-cho Nyak Dun and Vuntut-Gwitchin) and two environmental organizations (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and Yukon Conservation Society) in the Supreme Court of Canada over land-use planning in the Peel Watershed.

Yukon Peel Watershed Plan Violates Treaties and Threatens Ecosystems

Hart River in the Peel Watershed by Juri Peepre

A coalition of First Nations and conservation groups are suing the Yukon government over a controversial new land-use plan for the Peel River watershed. The Nacho Nyak Dun and Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nations joined with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Yukon Conservation Society to file a lawsuit in the Yukon Supreme Court on January 27.

The lawsuit is part of growing opposition facing the Yukon government over the development plan released on January 21. The plan would see major portions of one of North America’s largest remaining wilderness areas opened to industrial development.

Critics claim that the government plan violates land claims treaties signed with First Nations groups and endangers a pristine wilderness ecosystem host to a diverse range of plant and animal species.

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