Dawsonites urge the Yukon government to change its mind on the Peel Watershed

The Peel Watershed protest galvanized a large crowd on January 29.

Percy Henry (right) and Peggy Kormendy (with walker at left) led the march on Front Street.

Story & photos
by Dan Davidson

Close to 100 people turned out for the noon hour Protect the Peel protest march in Dawson City on Wednesday, January 29, the numbers no doubt enhanced by the fact that it was a sunny day with a temperature of around -10° C and only a hint of a breeze.

While the atmosphere was friendly and festive, the signs left no doubt of the mixed crowd’s displeasure with Yukon Party government’s recently announced decision regarding the future of the Peel Watershed. That decision rejected and flipped the recommendations made by the Peel Planning Commission, which were released to the public in 2011.

Deacon and elder, Percy Henry, began the march with a prayer circle.

Deacon and elder, Percy Henry, began the march with a prayer circle.

Among the many slogans on the signs:
• Respect the Peel.
• Even if they don’t listen … We are still going to beat the drum.
• Water is the veins of the earth. Protect the Peel.
• Honour the Treaties
• Respect the UFA (Umbrella Final Agreement)
• The Law of the Yukon is binding YG. Time to Concede
• Honk for the Peel

And many cars did honk as the group assembled on Front Street beside the Old CIBC Building. The initial 14 people soon swelled to at least 60, if not more, and the group was gathered into a circle in the middle of the street to receive a blessing and prayer from elder Percy Henry.

The scene called to mind last winter’s Idle No More protest gatherings, except that it was nearly thirty degrees warmer.

Peel March 1_colour

The protest galvanized a large crowd.

The group set off south on Front Street led by former chiefs Percy Henry and Peggy Kormendy. They marched east on Princess Street, north on Second Avenue, east on Queen to Third, south back to Princess and west again to Front Street.

Busily beating drums and chanting slogans all the way, they proceeded north to Dawson’s Town/Fire Hall and then back to the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in office building, where they assembled in another circle before breaking up.

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