Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 126

126 Arctic Yearbook 2015 principles under which the Dehcho have entered these negotiations, and it's fundamentally at odds with the honour of the crown (Norwegian, H., Grand Chief, Dehcho First Nations, January 27th, 2014). Another important concern of the NWT First Nations is that elimination of the regional boards will reduce participation by First Nations in decisions affecting their region and limit community involvement. For example, the Sahtu, the Tlicho, and the Gwich’in will no longer participate equally in decision making, and the single representative on a committee of 11 cannot engage and represent the communities as the regional board did (Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources 2014; Erasmus, E. 2014; CBC News 2013) The Tlicho and Sahtu governments both decided to challenge the new legislation in court. First, the Tlicho Government, in July 2014, filed a lawsuit against Canada, claiming that the changes to the MVMRA are unconstitutional and in breach of the Tlicho Agreement. Second, the Sahtu Secretariat, in March 2015, in their lawsuit against Canada, argues that the elimination of regional land and water boards violates the terms of the land claims and dilutes the ability of Aboriginal governments to comanage resource development in the territory (Wohlberg 2015). On February 27, 2015, the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories granted the Tlicho Government injunctive relief, suspending the effect of s. 253(2) of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act. The federal government has however appealed the decision. The NWT has been the territory the most impacted by the federal Action Plan to Improve Northern Regulatory Regimes. Despite many consultations, there has been unabated opposition from all of the Aboriginal groups concerned. This should be no surprise since the merging of the three land claim boards into a single “super board” has affected recently signed land claim agreements. The new “super board” will also be farther from the communities, and the influence of each Aboriginal group will be quite diminished. In Yukon (Bill S-6) The Yukon First Nations were also impacted by the action plan of the federal government. The Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act (YESAA) was first drawn up in 2005, as a requirement under the Development Assessment chapter of the Yukon First Nations Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA). It was developed by the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Yukon, and it establishes the Yukon Environmental and SocioEconomic Assessment Board (YESAB) as an independent body responsible for environmental and socio-economic assessment. As part of the Action Plan to Improve Northern Regulatory Regimes, Bill S-6 amends the YESAA. As in the NWT, there was widespread opposition to the change proposed by the federal government. Four aspects of the bill were of concern to Yukon First Nations: 1) section 34 empowers the federal government to give binding policy direction to the YESAB (similar to Bill C-15); 2) Canada can choose, under section 2, to delegate its powers to the Yukon Government; 3) sections 23 (2) and 16 impose maximum timelines—the YESAB has 15 months to make its recommendations and nine months to complete its evaluation of a project; if the YESAB needs more time it has to make a request Resource Development & Land Claims