Today, leaders representing Canada, the Yukon and Yukon First Nations met at the Intergovernmental Forum in the Yukon to discuss common priorities around the environment and climate change, mental wellness and the opioid crisis, land use planning, and the legacy of residential schools. It was the first time the Forum had taken place since the start of the pandemic.
Attendees included the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency; Government of Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Yukon Ministers; Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston; Yukon First Nations Chiefs and leaders; and Yukon Member of Parliament Brendan Hanley.
The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, joined the meeting in Whitehorse virtually.
All leaders expressed their concern about the ever-increasing impacts of climate change in the Yukon. Leaders shared their perspectives on this issue, including the growing need to fight climate change by investing in clean energy, and the imperative to protect a way of life and important cultural resources. Leaders discussed several priorities, including mental wellness in the territories and shared actions being taken by their governments to address the opioid crisis.
Other priorities discussed included land use planning, Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, and the Yukon First Nation Government’s Burial Sites Investigation Committee’s work in guiding the research and investigation of potential burial sites around former residential schools in the Yukon. All leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work together on the shared path of reconciliation and honour the children who were taken, never to return home, as well as Survivors and families still experiencing the intergenerational trauma caused by the harmful policies of Canada’s colonial past.
Since its inception in 2002, the Intergovernmental Forum has brought together the signatories of the Yukon First Nations Final and Self-Government Agreements to work on shared priorities. The Forum last met in 2019, when members signed a renewed protocol to guide their ongoing work together.