The fight to protect the Peel returns to the Yukon Supreme Court of Appeal this week

  • Published on Aug 19 2015 |
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Media Advisory
Aug 19, 2015

The fight to protect the Peel River Watershed returns to the Yukon Supreme Court of Appeal this week

What: The Peel River Watershed case returns to court on Thursday, with Thomas R. Berger, O.C., Q.C., and the legal team for the respondents, defending against an appeal by the Yukon Government that the Yukon Supreme Court ruling by Justice Ronald Veale be dismissed. The court case will be heard at the Yukon Court of Appeal in Whitehorse, Aug 20-21, 2015.

Chief Justice Bauman, Madam Justice Smith and Justice Goepel are presiding over the case. The respondents are the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Yukon Chapter, and the Yukon Conservation Society. Their council includes Thomas Berger, Margaret Rosling, and Patricia Riley. The defendant is the Yukon Government and their council is John Laskin, John Terry, and Jonathan Roth with Torys LLP out of Toronto. The Interveners in this trial are the Gwich’in Tribal Council and their lawyer, Jeff Langlois.

Elders from Mayo, Dawson, Mackenzie Delta and Old Crow communities are expected to join First Nation leadership to witness the proceedings and will be in attendance at the events planned in support of the respondents.

Why: Thomas Berger and his clients, the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation, CPAWS Yukon and YCS, launched legal action on January 27, 2014, to force the Government of Yukon to implement a Land Use Plan that would protect 54,000 square kilometres of wilderness in northern Yukon’s Peel River Watershed from mining and other industrial development.  In July, 2014, Thomas Berger argued the landmark constitutional case in the Supreme Court of Yukon and continued on Oct 24, 2014, to accommodate a deeper discussion focused on remedy.  In December, 2014, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ronald Veale agreed with the Plaintiffs that the Yukon Government violated the land use planning process laid out in the Umbrella Final Agreement with respect to the Peel Watershed Land Use Plan and must return to the final round of consultation with the First Nations and the public. On Dec 30, 2014 the Yukon Government announced they were appealing Justice Veale’s decision.

Schedule for this week in Whitehorse:
 Aug 20, 21 Courthouse doors 8:30 am. Court case proceedings underway from 9-4 pm. Open to the public
 Aug 20, 21 Media will have reserved seating in the main court
 Aug 20 Water Ceremony for the Peel: Thursday from 12 noon – 1 pm. Front steps of the Yukon Law Court
 Aug 20 BBQ for the Peel: Thursday from 5pm - 8 pm. Official welcome at 6pm. Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre (1171 First Ave, Whitehorse). Open to the public

Available for interviews:
 Simon Mervyn, Chief, Nacho Nyak Dun
 Roberta Joseph, Chief, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in
 Roger Kyikavichik, Chief, Vuntut Gwich’in
 Gill Cracknell, Executive Director, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Yukon Chapter
 Christina Macdonald, Executive Director, Yukon Conservation Society
 Elders and youth attending events outside the courthouse

When: Thursday and Friday – before and after the court sessions and during recesses
Where: Yukon Law Courts (2134 Second Ave., Whitehorse)

Arrangements can also be made for phone interviews

Moment by moment updates and resources available for media:
 Twitter: #ProtectPeel  (including tweets direct from the court room)
 Podcasts and daily summaries of the proceedings will be captured each day https://peelwatershedtrial.wordpress.com
 Daily Images and video from events and court proceedings can be obtained via https://peelwatershedtrial.wordpress.com/
http://www.protectpeel.ca
 Backgrounder, images, podcasts, press releases can also be found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a2rkzl0mutgd74c/AAAmcJPeqFmu4yMk3FeE9xspa

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Media Contacts:
Kate Rogers, Tartan Group: (604) 880-1494 (cell) or kate@tartangroup.ca
Amber Church, CPAWS: (867) 335-4884 (cell) or achurch@cpawsyukon.org  (in court and unavailable from 9-4 pm Thurs/Fri)

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