A territorial election needs to be called by the end of the year.
The following are questions for all the political parties as they, when elected, provide the mandate for the public service and are to ensure the vision and best interests of all Yukoners.
If you formed the next territorial government what would the position of your party be on the following questions (in some cases answers are provided that, if given, would be considered unacceptable)?
1. How will you implement the self-government agreements covering areas such as child welfare, health and justice (the First Nations surrendered lands and rights in return for these agreements) and signed them in trust and good faith with representatives from the Yukon and government of Canada?
(a) There is no money. (In a $1-billion territorial budget there is money; finding the money is not the responsibility of Yukon First Nations
Ã the Yukon and government of Canada already signed the agreements and already removed the land, tax rights, etc.; self-governing services, in fact, have been shown to be cost effective once established as they are often culturally relevant, efficient, and the services are tailored exactly to the needs of the client group).
(b) They are not ready. (Child welfare has been controlled by Native American tribal authorities for decades and many parts of Canada have successful aboriginal child-welfare organizations; Yukon First Nations successfully cared for their children for thousands of years until the legacy of residential school; there are many Yukon First Nation and aboriginal social workers, and many nonaboriginal social workers including a number in the Yukon government that would love to help and see the promise that has been made to Yukon First Nations be fulfilled).
(c) There is no infrastructure in place. (CTFN have posted on their website some of the most progressive social and family programming legislation available in the country today, Kwanlin Dun has been delivering successfully a full range of programs since the 1960s).
(d) There is too much instability. (Democracy is most clearly represented when you can see it and hear it and services can be designed to be separate from the political machinations of a government. A government that allows its employees and citizens to have a voice can deliver much more effective services than a government where those employed and served are afraid to speak).
(e) There are no resources available to design these systems. (If the policy units and legal services of the governments of the Yukon and Canada were mandated to sit down with the First Nations who have virtually no resources provided to do this, even though it was promised to them, and helped them in co-operation and friendship, then some of the best program system designs incorporating checks and balances, best practices, and the teachings of the elders could be designed and prepared for cabinet approval within months).
2. How will you establish an employment-equity program aimed at recruiting Yukon First Nation and aboriginal employees into senior government positions (for example, corporation presidents, DMs, ADMs, directors, principals)?
(a) There are no Yukon First Nation and aboriginal employees qualified. (Actually, there are many with degrees and graduate degrees, but they are often reluctant to apply, knowing they will be screened out, and many positions are never advertised as employees within are moved up the ladder from acting position to acting position. The Yukon government is the only territorial jurisdiction that does not have a mandated interdepartmental and cross-classification active recruitment program aimed at the regional indigenous population. Valuable First Nation employees are often given one-year terms and, after demonstrating successfully the ability to do the position, it is eliminated and not made ongoing. The GNWT in their Affirmative Action Policy list the following target groups for consideration for representation in full time positions. Eligible target groups are: “Indigenous aboriginal persons, resident women, resident disabled persons, and indigenous nonaboriginal persons”).
3. How will you help street people to have options for changing their life?
(a) People have the right to choose their lifestyle and there are opportunities available for everyone. (Nobody wakes up one morning, or as a child, and decides their career is going to be living on the streets, however people are logical and act the way they do for logical reasons. For example, I live on the streets because I am confused (FAS, brain damage), I need to get high (malnourishment, diabetes, wipes out the memory of childhood sexual abuse, grieving for lost loved ones), I can’t do anything else (low self-esteem, no encouragement, no way to get cleaned up or stay cleaned up for a job) and I am accepted (no stares, discrimination, inability to understand what I am saying, or not accepting or caring for/about me).
Society, through government action and positive intervention, needs to reach each and every person on the street so that thriving and living is seen as a better option than freezing and dying.
(b) We have to focus on those that are moving ahead. (Everyone has the potential to change and when society makes those decisions over who has a right to a brighter future versus those that don’t, then the next generation becomes desensitized to the suffering of one part of the population. When all are gravitated to assisting those in most need the next generation can believe in a society where all things are possible for all people).
4. How will you provide housing for those who have no place to live?
(a) We can’t afford to create housing. (The reality is, the beds will need to be provided anyway at a much higher cost because once the street is no longer an option then the government needs to provide beds at the hospital, group homes and correctional facilities; it is far cheaper to provide beds before those situations and associated tragedies arise).
(b) They don’t know how to look after housing. (The skills of those on the street vary from difficulties associated with addictions/FAS to no problem at all; they just can’t afford or find a place. Different forms of housing can be provided from staffed for those with chronic behaviours, to staged for those progressing through treatment, to independent, perhaps with homecare for those doing well but dealing with AIDS, disabilities, etc.)
5. Will you support core funding for wilderness and cultural treatment programs?
(a) We are pilot testing an excellent and successful program at Kwanlin Dun. (Yes, it is excellent and successful, but why are we pilot testing a program that we already know works. Kwanlin Dun, Selkirk, Ross River Dena, Vuntut Gwitchin, Champagne/Aishihik and all Yukon First Nations have run successful camps. A presentation was delivered on the model at the Circumpolar Health Conference in the 1980s. Everyone knows the camps work; problems only occur when there is lack of and inconsistent funding. The traditional treatment programs need to be core funded, across the Yukon, and long term. Treatment intakes need to be long term because, while one may detoxify in a month, it often takes three months to begin to deal with issues like residential school abuse or correctional facility institutionalization that can be the actual causal factors for the addiction).
6. Will you support pay equity in service delivery?
(a) Most of the First Nation or special initiative funding is federal; we sometimes top it off. (This is true, but the Yukon government and Ottawa can sit down together and see if progress can proceed in addressing the situation where, if you deliver the exact same service in a First Nation as you would in, say, the Yukon government, it is automatically assumed that in the First Nation you would get way less pay, no benefits, less security, probably no increments or cost-of-living increase, maybe no overtime, and no pension when you retire; there are words that would describe what is happening here, should it be occurring any other place in the world. It needs to be considered in the day of self-governance why this is considered acceptable in the Yukon.
Future mayoral and council candidates for Whitehorse should also consider in their campaigns why the city is doing so little to help youth and others in need.