In recognition of 20th anniversary of Yukon First Nation self-government agreements

It’s with great pleasure that I also rise on behalf of the Yukon Liberal Party to pay tribute to the 20th anniversary of recognized First Nation self-government in Yukon.

On February 14, 1995, the first self-government agreements were signed by the Na Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Teslin Tlingit Council and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. The date also coincided with the anniversary of the 1973 presentation of Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, a foundation document for today’s self-government agreements.

I had the honour and privilege to attend the celebration event on March 19, 2015 at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre. The tone that night was both celebratory but also a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. Even still within governments, there are those who do not recognize the legitimacy of Yukon First Nations’ ability to govern. Just last year the federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs told Yukon First Nation chiefs that they were not governments.

The Yukon First Nation governments should be saluted for all they have accomplished. Other governments and we ourselves need to understand that we either need to make relationships and partnerships or get out of the way, as I am certain that the next 20 years will be even more fruitful that the last 20 years.

Yukon First Nations have been leaders in implementing self-government agreements. Today, 11 of Yukon’s First Nations have signed self-government agreements. These will form the cornerstone of our economic and societal development for generations to come. These monumental agreements have benefited all Yukoners by providing a voice through boards and committees and councils, thus increasing communication among all levels of government.

In closing, I would like to congratulate all Yukon First Nations on what they have achieved and I look forward to what you will achieve next. In closing, I would just like to say that self-government is leading the way.