White River First Nation
White River First Nation is a Yukon Nation whose main community is Beaver Creek in western Yukon, near the Alaska border. Many of White River’s family members reside in Alaska. White River members speak both Northern Tutchone and Upper Tanana, both Athapaskan languages.
White River First Nation participated in the Yukon Umbrella Final Agreement negotiations but chose not to enter into a modern land claims agreement with the Yukon government. White River is striving to ensure that it is adequately consulted and accommodated with respect to potential impacts on its Aboriginal title and rights posed by resource development in its traditional territory. With the recent mineral staking rush in the Yukon, White River First Nation has been working hard to secure meaningful participation in land use decisions that affect its lands and waters and its members’ ability to maintain their traditional way of life.
In 2013, JFK Law represented White River First Nation in a successful judicial review of a decision of the Yukon Government to overturn a recommendation of the Yukon Socio-Economic and Environmental Assessment Board that a mining exploration permit sought by Tarsis Resources Ltd. should not be issued because it would cause significant impacts to the environment and to White River First Nation’s traditional use of the land at issue. The court found that the Yukon government breached its duty to consult with White River First Nation and quashed the decision of the Chief of Mines to reject the recommendation that project not be allowed to proceed, ordering further consultation with White River First Nation to be funded by the Yukon Government.
White River continues to take substantial steps to hold the government and resource companies to account in meeting their consultation and accommodation obligations and engaging in meaningful processes that respect White River First Nation title, rights and culture. Working with JFK has enabled White River to significantly increase its capacity and success in achieving appropriate recognition of its unique culture and history in the Yukon.