Yukon NDP leader salutes CYFN Wall of Recognition honourees

Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson has written the following letter to congratulate this year’s Council of Yukon First Nations Wall of Recognition inductees:

At this year’s Council for Yukon First Nations 2016 General Assembly, I enjoyed watching the induction to the CYFN Wall of Recognition of Ray Jackson, Sam Johnston and Clifford McLeod, three of the Yukon First Nation chiefs who sped off to Ottawa with Chief Elijah Smith hot on the heels of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Calder verdict in 1973.

Nisga’a Elders led by Frank Calder argued that the title to their lands had never been extinguished. Until that time, Pierre Trudeau had been clear: they did not recognize Aboriginal rights nor the need to negotiate modern treaties. The Calder case made Trudeau realize that his position was untenable.

At their 1973 meeting in Ottawa, the Elijah Smith delegation presented Trudeau with Together Today For Our Children Tomorrow, an historic document that set in motion the negotiation of Yukon’s Umbrella Final Agreement.

It was great to hear from former chiefs Ray Jackson and Sam Johnston as they reminisced about that famous meeting, especially since their commemoration on the Wall of Recognition, alongside former Chief McLeod, completes the honouring of each member of that historic delegation.

Ray, Sam and Clifford are the living history of Yukon; their memories and their hard, often unpaid work over the years has gone unrecognized for too long. The Wall of Recognition is a great step in preserving some of the story of these leaders.

Several members of Yukon First Nations legal teams, past and present, were also honoured. CYFN’s legal counselor Daryn Leas, a "next generation" Yukon First Nation citizen, has continued the legacy of commitment to the cause of Yukon First Nations. His pragmatic and clear approach has served Yukon First Nations – and all Yukon well. Jim Harper, once a councilor to the Council of Yukon Indians as well as many other First Nations, was also inducted.

Congratulations to these important figures who played pivotal roles in shaping – and then reinforcing – Yukon’s final agreements.