There are 14 Yukon First Nations in the Yukon Territory within eight language groupings. Eleven Yukon First Nations signed modern treaties between 1993 and 2005.
These self-governing Yukon First Nations make laws and decisions on their settlement land and for their citizens.
Chapter 16 of the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) and First Nation Final Agreements (FNFA) makes provisions for salmon through the establishment of the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee (YSSC). Additionally, the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) and the Yukon River Salmon Agreement (YRSA) provide the legislative structure for the cooperative management of salmon between Canada and the United States. These two treaties represent the international commitment to the restoration, conservation, and management of salmon upon which the Yukon communities depend.
Each Yukon First Nation is unique in supporting salmon and maintaining their connection to salmon culture. Many have engaged in stock restoration initiatives within their traditional territory.
The primary methods of stock restoration include instream incubation, beaver dam management, and small-scale incubation programs. Some Yukon First Nations have also developed community-based salmon plans that reflect a union of both Indigenous approaches and western science. Yukon First Nations have also supported assessment projects using sonars and counting weirs. Finally, all Yukon First Nations support the transfer of knowledge from Elders to youth through culture camps, language, curriculum, stories, and ceremony. Most efforts to maintain salmon stocks and their cultural connection take place within their individual traditional territories.
These Yukon First Nations governments also have other fish and wildlife priorities which stretch Yukon First Nations thin. Existing transboundary management agencies and processes often do not reflect the holistic relationship Yukon First Nations have with salmon or the priorities of Yukon First Nations communities and their governments. These treaty-based processes are often driven solely by western science, administered by officials who live far from Yukon First Nations communities, and who operate with a limited mandate primarily focused on harvest and management.
Cultural loss, food security concerns, and the transfer of important traditional teachings and Aboriginal rights often highlight gaps and incompatibilities with colonially-established management processes. It is our intention—with the support of DFO’s AAROM program and through the establishment of the YFNSSA—to ensure that YFNs Yukon First Nations can work collaboratively with other partners at a watershed level to fill these gaps and develop a YFNs Yukon First Nations -centred approach to supporting Yukon salmon, other aquatic resources, and healthy ecosystems.