First Nations announce court action on changes to YESAA

For immediate release: 

Whitehorse, Yukon – Today, three Yukon First Nations – the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation and the Teslin Tlingit Council – announced they are pursuing court action against the federal government for passing Bill S-6, which amends the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA).

This announcement coincides with the Prime Minister’s visit to the Yukon on his campaign trail.

The YESAA is a federal act, which gives legal effect to implement the unique development assessment process that is founded in the modern Yukon First Nation land claims agreements.

All Yukon First Nations strongly opposed several of the changes to the YESAA as they are a breach of modern Treaties. The majority of Yukon First Nations with Final Agreements are supporting the three Plaintiffs in this case, and the action will be brought on behalf of all Final Agreements.

“Yukon First Nations made every effort to resolve this issue through discussions and presenting sound options,” explained Chief Carl Sidney of the Teslin Tlingit Council. “Both the federal and territorial governments refused to engage in meaningful discussions. The current government seems determined to undermine or repeal environmental legislation throughout Canada, but Yukon First Nations’ rights to effective legislation were constitutionally guaranteed under our Final Agreements.”

“We tried numerous times to work with Canada to resolve the key issues,” said Chief Steve Smith from Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. “Rather than treating our First Nations as partners in government-to-government dialogue, the federal government acted on their own and left us no choice but to use the courts to address these matters.”

“We will protect the integrity of our Agreements. We will not stand by and let Canada erode them,” stated Chief Eric Fairclough of Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation. “By passing Bill S-6,

this conservative government has demonstrated that they are not willing to truly work with First Nations governments and has brought uncertainty to our territory. This is just one more case of the Government of Canada failing to honour modern treaties in Canada.”

Gregory McDade, Q.C. of the B.C. legal firm Ratcliff & Company has been retained as the litigator. Mr. McDade has extensive experience with working with First Nations across Canada and Ratcliff & Co.’s practice focuses on Aboriginal rights and title litigation. Mr. McDade has been legal counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada in a number of recent ground-breaking Aboriginal cases.

The firm has begun preparation and a formal court action is expected to be filed within the next month. Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation and the Teslin Tlingit Council will provide more detail in the coming weeks.

For more information contact: 

Amy McKinnon
Communications Manager
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations

Jade McGinty
Communications Coordinator
Teslin Tlingit Council
867-390-2532 ext. 306

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COMING SOON: New books on how historic and modern treaties continue to shape the Canadian landscape

Click here to view the flyer for the exciting new book on how historic and modern treaties continue to shape the Canadian landscape. Keeping Promises: The Royal Proclamation of 1763, Aboriginal Rights, and Treaties in Canada. Edited by Terry Fenge and Jim Aldridge.

Click here to view the flyer for the McGill Queen’s University Press Native and Northern Series – featuring works in the fields of archaeology, history, and traditional cultures of native peoples; covering issues in contemporary development, the environment, government policy, and the relations of native and non-native people.

Rebecca Shrubb, Event Administrator/Researcher
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Head Office: 613-237-3613
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Governor General of Canada and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to Attend Royal Proclamation Symposium

(Ottawa, Ontario – October 3, 2013)

The Land Claims Agreements Coalition is pleased to announce that His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will be delivering an opening address at the Creating Canada symposium, to be held October 7, 2013 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister The Honourable Bernard Valcourt will also be addressing the participants with comments on behalf of the federal government. The Symposium marks the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763. This legal touchstone established a requirement for honourable dealing with Aboriginal peoples, and was the basis for subsequent treaty negotiations across Canada.

 “It is an important step for the Governor General to represent the Crown in its relationship with Aboriginal peoples in Canada,” said Mitchell Stevens, President of the Nisga’a Lisims Government and co-chair of the Coalition. “I am also pleased that Minister Valcourt has agreed to present us with his views on this important occasion.”

Fellow co-chair and President of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Cathy Towtongie added: “This event is an opportunity to improve everyone’s understanding of the history behind modern land claims agreements.”  She added that “the negotiation of land claims agreements is part of the history of Canada, going as far back as the Proclamation. They must be honoured and fully implemented.”

Aboriginal leaders from across Canada will attend, as well as academics from Canada and the United States, who will discuss the past and present significance of the Royal Proclamation. The event has attracted close to 300 registrants to date, and seats are still available. For more information, including a list of speakers, background information and the schedule for the day, visit

For more information:

Patti Black, Coordinator, Land Claims Agreements Coalition
cell: 613-453-0788,

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Symposium will mark 250th Anniversary of “Legal Touchstone” for Aboriginal Canadians


Symposium will mark 250th Anniversary of “Legal Touchstone” for Aboriginal Canadians

(Ottawa, Ontario – Sept 16, 2013) 

Ask Canadians what important events occurred in 1763 and they might reply that the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Seven Years’ War and establishing British control over eastern North America. A few may even know Chippewa peoples captured Fort Michilimackinac by diverting the garrison’s attention with a game of lacrosse, then chasing the ball into the fort.

But not many will know about Britain’s Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763, a legal touchstone that shaped North America and laid the foundations for treaties with Aboriginal peoples, land claims, and self-government agreements.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 set a standard for “honourable dealing” with Aboriginal peoples. It was the basis for treaty negotiations in Upper Canada following the American War of Independence, across the Prairies in the nineteenth century, and after 1973 when the Government of Canada agreed to negotiate comprehensive land claims agreements in areas where historic treaties had not been signed.

“The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is a foundational document in Canadian history,” said Mitchell Stevens, president of Nisga’a Nation and co-chair of the Land Claims Agreements Coalition “because it affirms the government-to-government relationship between First Nations and the Crown, and forms the basis of modern-day treaty making requirements in Canada.”

On October 7, 2013, the Land Claims Agreements Coalition will commemorate this valuable piece of Canadian history with “Creating Canada: From the Royal Proclamation of 1763 to Modern Treaties”, a symposium marking the document’s 250th anniversary. The symposium will be held in the Auditorium at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in Gatineau.

“ ‘Creating Canada’ will provide a critical dialogue and understanding of the long history underlying treaties and land claims agreements in Canada,” said Cathy Towtongie, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., and co-chair of the Land Claims Agreements Coalition. “Anyone who works with Aboriginal peoples will learn a lot from this Symposium.”

For more information: 

Patti Black, Coordinator, Land Claims Agreements Coalition:
cell: 613-453-0788

Symposium Press Release


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Proceedings and audio files from the October 2012 Modern Treaty Awareness session are now available.

Proceedings document can be found in our Coalition Documents section.

The audio files can be played by visting the Modern Treaty Awareness Session page.

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Modern Treaty Organizations Oppose Federal Government Formula Financing Proposal

(Ottawa ON, May 3, 2012) Members of the Land Claims Agreements Coalition today rejected a proposal from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to replace negotiated self-government fiscal financing arrangements with a formula financing approach.

To date, few concrete details have been provided on how the proposed Fiscal Harmonization Policy will adhere to the Constitutionally-protected requirements contained in existing modern treaties. What is clear, however, is that the policy’s design and purpose are narrowly focused on addressing administrative challenges expressed by the Government of Canada, not on the capacity requirements of Aboriginal signatories.

“Strong governance institutions are integral to the long-term stability and vitality of Aboriginal communities,” said Mitchell Stevens, co-chair of the Coalition. “Funding arrangements must be grounded in our treaties; the real costs of governing, and the social, economic and cultural needs of Aboriginal peoples. They are not to be based on what is merely convenient for federal government administration.”

All parties agree that the fiscal renewal process for modern treaty organizations is not working. Multiple-year delays, lack of negotiating mandates by federal negotiators and chronic underfunding for Aboriginal governments are just a few of the objections that modern treaty signatories have to the current process. But these problems can be fixed by the Government of Canada taking its existing obligations seriously.

Modern treaties – also known as comprehensive land claims agreements- are Constitutionally-protected agreements between Aboriginal signatories, the Federal government, and in some cases territorial and provincial governments. Modern treaties address close to half of Canada’s lands, waters and resources, and when fully implemented benefit all Canadians.

LCAC Press Release on Fiscal Harmonization

For more information:

Patti Black, Coordinator
Land Claims Agreements Coalition
Tel: 613-237-3613

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LCAC Leaders reflect on busy year

(December 8, 2009, Ottawa, Ontario) The Land Claims Agreements Coalition concluded its sixth annual Leadership Meeting in Ottawa on Monday.

The Coalition reconfirmed Coalition Co-chairs Paul Kaludjak, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc, and Kevin McKay, acting president of the Nisga’a Nation. Mr. Kaludjak stated that the Coalition has many 2009 achievements to celebrate including the release of it’s model national policy on the implementation of land claims agreements (modern treaties) in Canada. The roll-out was followed by the Coalition’s third national conference, entitled Claiming our Future: Implementing Land Claims Agreements for Social and Economic Prosperity, held in Ottawa in May 2009.

Co-chair Kevin McKay reminded Coalition members, all of whom are modern treaty signatories, that there is much work to be done in 2010. This includes pressing the federal government to adopt the model implementation policy and educating Canadians about modern treaties. The Coalition has yet to receive an official government response to the model policy.

The meeting was followed by a reception hosting many distinguished guests, including the Leader of the New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, and MPs Garry Breitkreuz, Larry Bagnell, Dennis Bevington and Todd Russell. Senator Gerry St. Germain, Chair of the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, also attended.

Formed in 2003, the Land Claims Agreements Coalition is an association of Aboriginal peoples who have signed modern treaties. The Coalition’s mandate is to ensure that these treaties are respected, honoured and fully implemented.

For more information, please contact: 

Patti Black, Coordinator
Land Claims Agreements Coalition
Tel: 613-374-3830

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