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Canada  

Victory for First Nations

The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned an appeal court decision that rolled back years of planning for a huge swath of wilderness lands in Yukon.

The unanimous high court ruling today, a victory for First Nations and environmental groups, is likely to have a profound impact on resource development in the Peel Watershed, which covers a portion of the northern territory the size of Ireland.

In 1993, Canada, Yukon and First Nations agreed on a consultative process for development of land-use plans in areas including the watershed.

The process led to creation of a recommended plan in late 2009, but the process later broke down when Yukon changed the plan over the objections of the First Nations, who argued the territory did not have authority to do so.

A trial judge ruled that Yukon had breached an agreement when it changed the plan, quashed Yukon's final land-use plan and ordered that the process return to the point of final consultations between the territory and First Nations.

The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge's order to quash the government plan, but ordered that the process resume at an earlier stage — when Yukon first received the recommended plan.



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