For generations upon generations the Ta’an Kwach’an Council, Kwanlin Dun First Nation, and Carcross/Tagish First Nation have lived along the lakes and rivers of the Yukon River headwaters. Today these Southern Lakes First Nations continue to maintain their intimate relationship and commit as stewards to the land, water, fish, and wildlife.
For generations, the people of the Ta’an Kwach’an Council, Kwanlin Dun First Nation, and Carcross/Tagish First Nation have continuously lived along the lakes and rivers of the Yukon River southern headwaters. Today the Southern Lakes First Nations maintain their intimate relationship to and their commitment as stewards to this land and its water, fish, and wildlife. Supporting large intact ecological systems, unique plant communities, spawning Chinook and sockeye salmon, and the Yukon’s highest mammal diversity. The Southern Lakes region also supports the Yukon’s largest human concentration including the capital city of Whitehorse with its 25,000 people and associated human uses, activities and infrastructure.
Relying on healthy boreal landscapes, rivers and lakes, the Southern Lakes First Nations have strong concerns about the impacts of the growing network of roads, trails, and associated industrial and recreational uses on their core ecological and cultural values. Currently, no land plan exists to ensure that these values will be maintained while balancing the economic requirements and recreational desires of this region’s growing population. Regional land use planning was a commitment made in the Umbrella Final Agreement 30 years ago but has not been undertaken. Regional planning is now needed more than ever, and to prepare for this process, the Ta’an Kwach’an Council, Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Carcross/Tagish First Nation have formed a collaborative partnership to initiate the Southern Lakes Indigenous Land Vision, named by the elders as How We Walk With Land and Water.
Round River Work
Since 2017, Round River has been assisting the Southern Lakes First Nations with technical support to map and model both cultural and ecological values including the collecting and compiling of traditional knowledge, traditional use and western science information. Our work with the First Nation governments is directed by an Elders Council. This mapped information will be used to develop the regional indigenous vision to protect their core values.
The Land Vision mapping identifies and prioritizes areas based on their cultural and ecological importance as well as their vulnerability to human-caused change – both in the short-term to development pressure and in the longer term to climate change. The Land Visioning process provides an indigenous-led foundation for regional planning with the Yukon Government, while also supporting decision-support for the First Nations in on-going land and water stewardship.