Water Ceremony for the Peel and a BBQ taking place today in support of #ProtectPeel

Media Advisory
Aug 20, 2015

Water Ceremony for the Peel and a BBQ taking place today in support of #ProtectPeel
Peel Watershed Case proceedings underway in the Yukon Supreme Court of Appeal

What: Elders from Mayo, Dawson, Mackenzie Delta and Old Crow communities, joined by supporters of the Peel River Watershed, will gather on the steps of the Yukon Law Court in Whitehorse for a First Nations-led water ceremony for the Peel beginning at noon, Aug 20, 2015.

The Water Ceremony for the Peel will bring together the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation, respondents in the Peel Watershed court case along with fellow respondents, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Yukon Chapter and the Yukon Conservation Society, in a special ceremony involving the gathering of water collected by supporters from Yukon lakes, rivers and streams that have special meaning to the bearer.  During the ceremony these waters will be joined together on the front steps of the Yukon Law Courts in support of protection of the Peel Watershed and Justice Veale’s 2014 judgment concerning the region’s land use plan.  Over 350 vials were distributed to members of the public throughout the summer who are bringing waters from throughout the territory, including the major drainages of the Peel Watershed, to be mingled together during the ceremony.

The BBQ for the Peel will take place at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre Long House and Fire Pit following the court proceedings and will include an official welcoming from all five respondents in the case.  The free event will feature delicious food, including local char, and will serve as an opportunity for the respondents to celebrate and thank the public for their tireless efforts to preserve the watershed.    It will also host the conclusion of the Water Ceremony for the Peel, where the mingled waters will be poured into the Yukon River.  On hand will be the Chiefs of the three First Nations involved, elders, youth, and supporters.   Public are welcome to attend.

Event Schedule for Thursday, August 20th: 
 Courthouse doors 8:30 am. Court case proceedings underway from 9-4 pm. Open to the public
 Water Ceremony for the Peel: 12 noon – 1 pm. Front steps of the Yukon Law Court
 BBQ for the Peel: 5pm – 8 pm at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre
 BBQ Official welcome at 6pm
 BBQ Yukon River Pour – The completion of the Water Ceremony after the official welcome

Available for interviews at the Water Ceremony and BBQ:
 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
 Public supporters of the campaign to protect the Peel

• Yukon Law Courts (2134 Second Ave., Whitehorse)
• Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre (1171 First Ave, Whitehorse).

Moment by moment updates and resources available for media:
 Twitter: #ProtectPeel  (including tweets direct from the court room)
 Water vials are available at the Yukon Conservation Society office – 302 Hawkins St and the CPAWS – Yukon office at 506 /Steele St.)
 Backgrounder, images, podcasts, press releases can also be found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a2rkzl0mutgd74c/AAAmcJPeqFmu4yMk3FeE9xspa
 Podcasts, images, daily summaries of the proceedings will be captured each day https://peelwatershedtrial.wordpress.com
 http://www.protectpeel.ca

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.

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)