Peel Watershed case returns to Yukon court

First Nations, environmentalists and the Yukon government were back in court on Thursday to argue the future of the Peel Watershed in Canada’s northwestern Yukon territory. (iStock)
The Peel Watershed controversy is arguably one of the most watched, ongoing environmental stories in Canada.

The Yukon Government wants most of the Peel Watershed opened up to industries like mining. While environmentalists and First Nations want most of the area to be protected.

And the issue has been slowly winding its way through the court system.

A Yukon Court ruled in December the government didn’t respect the process outlined in the territory’s First Nation’s agreements and said they should return to consultations on a final land use plan.

The government appealed and all parties were back in court on Thursday, for two days of hearings.

 To find out more about the Peel Watershed, the controversy and the implications this case could have for First Nations in the rest of Canada, Eye on the Arctic spoke with Gill Cracknell, the executive director of the Yukon Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, during a court break on Thursday:

The Peel Watershed in Yukon, Canada. (ICI Radio-Canada)
The Peel Watershed in Yukon, Canada. (ICI Radio-Canada)

Peel Watershed – Quick Facts

Area: 67,000 km2
Nearby communities: Mayo, Fort McPherson, Dawson and Old Crow
Land: Majority of land is crown owned
Largest private landowners in planning region: Tetlit Gwich’in First Nation
Other First Nations with private lands in region: Na-cho Nyak Dun and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in
Source: Peel Watershed Planning Commission

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

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Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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