Energy, Mines and Resources

Minerals

Yukon First Nations Land Claims

Land claims is the term used to describe the process of negotiating final and self-government agreements respecting aboriginal rights and title to land. Historically, the Government of Canada negotiated treaties with First Nations to establish aboriginal rights. As treaties were never concluded in the Yukon, the Governments of Canada and Yukon are now negotiating and implementing modern-day treaties for individual First Nations through the land claims process based on the Umbrella Final Agreement  462 KB.

Yukon has 14 First Nations. As of January 2007, 11 agreements have been settled, and another three are outstanding. Settlement of land claims provides Yukon First Nations with access, rights and obligations to land and resources, and the right to govern their own affairs. It also provides more certainty for Yukon with respect to land management and resource development, and charts a future for social and political development of the territory.

The Umbrella Final Agreement and individual First Nations Final Agreements outline specific chapters relating to access, management of settlement lands and non-renewable resources.

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Settlement Lands
Category A Settlement Land is settlement land where a Yukon First Nation has ownership of the surface and subsurface, including minerals. All staking, exploration and mining activity is governed by the First Nations for new mineral interests.

Category B Settlement Land is settlement land where a Yukon First Nation has ownership of the surface. New and existing staking, exploration and mining activity are governed by the Yukon government.

Fee simple Settlement Land is settlement land where a Yukon First Nation has the same fee simple title as other land registered in the Land Titles Office.

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Mineral Rights on Settlement Land
The holder of an existing mineral right on Settlement Land or on Non-Settlement Land (‘existing’ means prior to the effective date of the Yukon First Nation Final Agreement) has a right of access to exercise mineral rights, without the consent of the First Nation, provided that the access is of a casual or insignificant nature, or the route traveled is generally recognized and not altered significantly.

A person who has a new mineral right on Category B or Fee Simple Settlement Land also has a right of access on Settlement Land without permission from a First Nation. That person also has a right to use that parcel of Settlement Land, provided that no heavy equipment or methods more disruptive than hand labour methods are used. Refer to Chapter 6 and 18 of the Umbrella Final Agreement for further information.

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First Nation Participation
First Nations have demonstrated that they are willing to work with mining companies and support their projects in exchange for benefits to the local community. Many of these new partnerships are reflected in socio-economic agreements designed to foster more local benefits.

Elements of these agreements include specialized training, scholarships, contracting opportunities, environmental monitoring, etc. First Nation economic development corporations have already been eager to assist, on a competitive basis, in the construction and supply of existing mining operations and promising exploration programs. Recognition and protection of traditional lifestyles, employment and training opportunities, and equity participation, such as stock options, are some of the topics discussed in these negotiations.

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Key Considerations for Consultation with First Nations
The following are some of the key consultation components that should be addressed by companies when researching and developing a project proposal for either exploration or licensing applications:

  • identify nearby communities;
  • identify key contact people in nearby communities (e.g. chief, councillors, lands officer, administrators, mayor);
  • identify issues and concerns of importance to the communities;
  • communicate the company’s short and long term plans to the community;
  • be aware of local cultural differences and communication styles;
  • initiate meetings to exchange information between the company president and the chief, director of lands and resources or other senior official(s).

For more information, contact the Mineral Consultation Advisor, Mineral Resources, EMR at (867) 667-8708 or visit the following websites:

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Traditional Territories of Yukon First Nations and Trans-boundary First Nations Land
A Traditional Territory means the geographic area within Yukon identified as that Yukon First Nation’s traditional territory as outlined  in the Umbrella Final Agreement  462 KB.

Further information about the traditional territory boundaries can be found by contacting Aboriginal Relations at 867.667.5035 or at their website.

 

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