Magnificent Peel Watershed protected for future generations

After 15 years of court challenges that went all the way to the Supreme Court, Indigenous Nations came together on August 22nd to sign the final agreement protecting 67,000 square km of land and water in the Yukon. RAVEN is so honoured to have been part of the court challenge that brought victory to Nations committed to protecting land and critical watersheds for future generations. We’re thankful to every single person who donated and organized.

The Peel victory is proof that RAVEN’s strategy works. Despite the cost and the lengthy timeframes of these cases, Indigenous Peoples hold powerful rights that, when defended and upheld in court, protect wild and storied places. The Peel Watershed victory demonstrates what can be achieved when you stand with First Nations and put reconciliation into action.

“This is a great day for the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun and the people of the North,” said Chief Simon Mervyn of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation, which hosted the ceremony in Mayo, Yukon to celebrate the signing of the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan.

“We have decided that the long-term spiritual health of our people is more important than short-term economic gains and that our grandchildren deserve clean natural places in which to hunt, play and pray,” Mervyn said.

Chief Simon Mervyn of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation pours water from the Goz Lake into a vase as part of the water ceremony held to celebrate the signing of the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan on Aug. 22, 2019 in Mayo, Yukon. Photo by Government of Yukon/Alistair Maitland Photography

The Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan now protects 83 per cent of the region.

“Looking back after such a long, long journey, it was well worth it now that we can stand here and say that we successfully defended the integrity of our final agreement and the right to the democratic planning process promised in those documents,” said Chief Roberta Joseph of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation.

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver reiterated commitment to reconciliation and stressed the wider importance of the region.

“The Peel Watershed is one of North America’s largest and most pristine natural areas. It is one of the truly last pristine wild environments anywhere in the world,” Silver said. “We’re working towards reconciliation and completing a plan which is so important to all of us. … To our federal partners, thank you for understanding that decisions on the North are to be made by Northerners.”

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Map of Peel Watershed Region in Yukon by jfklaw posted on January 16th, 2015.

Listen to the words of Chief Tizya-Tramm:


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