Chief Allen says his piece

Chief Allen says his piece On behalf of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) government, I wish to express deep concern with the story entitled "Aftercare needed in Haines Junction" (May 3, Yukon News). Unfortunately, that story left out most

On behalf of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) government, I wish to express deep concern with the story entitled “Aftercare needed in Haines Junction” (May 3, Yukon News).

Unfortunately, that story left out most of the information provided to the News by CAFN. In addition, this story creates undue pressure and scrutiny on vulnerable members of our First Nation.

Issues related to addictions treatment and after-care are present Yukon-wide.

But we believe CAFN and Haines Junction have much to be proud of in terms of being a healthy, supportive and safe Yukon community.

Wellness and healing for our people is a very high priority for chief and council and our government. As a result, last fall CAFN started a major reorganization of our health and social programs to provide more holistic support.

This reorganization began after an extensive review of addictions resources, and has involved experts in trauma, vicarious trauma, addictions and social work.

People in our community are served through a range of programs – wellness promotion, employment opportunities, training, recreation activities for all ages, and much more. CAFN is very fortunate to have a very dedicated group of staff working on these programs, and working to improve services to citizens.

CAFN works and will continue to work to support all citizens who are on the road to recovery. At the same time, we need to balance the needs of individuals with the well-being and safety of the larger community.

Aftercare for individuals returning from addictions treatment programs is a challenge for CAFN, as it is for all other communities and First Nations. We will continue to work with our staff, our citizens, other agencies and the Yukon government to identify the best possible options.

The CAFN government appreciates the efforts of community members to support each other with recovery from alcoholism and addictions, but we need to focus on delivering the programs and services that we have already committed to carry out.

CAFN is also making changes to improve housing – including work on tenant support, improving housing policies, and assisting citizens to achieve home ownership.

This year we are establishing a transition housing program with the first three units to be ready this June. Some of our units will provide assisted living for a few citizens dealing with health and addictions issues.

CAFN maintains more than 100 housing units in Haines Junction, Champagne, Canyon Creek, and Takhini River Subdivision. The vast majority of those units are in very good condition.

Some rental units with higher rates of tenant turnover, including the apartments, tend to have higher rates of damage. Repairs occur on an ongoing basis, with safety issues given the highest priority.

Renovations have been undertaken at the apartment building in Haines Junction over the years. Additional major repairs are planned for this summer.

The CAFN government continues to work to meet our vision statement of promoting a healthy, unified and self-reliant people, and continues to work with citizens to identify the best options for CAFN.

For more details on our vision statement and strategic plan please visit www.cafn.ca.

We look forward to more balanced reporting by the Yukon News in the future.

Chief James Allen

Champagne and Aishihik First Nations

Editor’s note: The News gave Chief Allen several opportunities to respond to criticisms before we published our May 3 article. He declined to participate, other than to submit a written statement that skirted most of our questions. We stand by our reporting.