Kwanlin Dun is helping its citizens fight addictions

I am writing in response to the political cartoon published by the Yukon News in the Wednesday, Sept. 3 edition which included a cartoon of my likeness as chief of Kwanlin Dun First Nation.


By Doris Bill

I am writing in response to the political cartoon published by the Yukon News in the Wednesday, Sept. 3 edition which included a cartoon of my likeness as chief of Kwanlin Dun First Nation, in addition to the article in the News’ Aug. 29 edition regarding the waterfront.

The cartoon suggests that Kwanlin Dun, other governments and law enforcement are doing nothing on waterfront issues aside from blaming each other.

The parties indicated in the cartoon suggests that the issues along the waterfront involve Kwanlin Dun people exclusively, however issues of homelessness, addiction and mental illness affect people from all backgrounds.

The Aug. 29 article is conspicuously absent of any comment by either Whitehorse-area First Nation. Kwanlin Dun was not contacted for comment on the article, nor has Kwanlin Dun ever been approached by the Yukon News to comment specifically on issues concerning the waterfront.

Although the cartoon suggests inaction on part of our government, our First Nation continues to demonstrate initiative and leadership through our Jackson Lake land-based healing program, which is widely acknowledged and supported for its programming that assists Yukoners who are struggling with addictions.

We are also taking steps to identify and address the issue of homelessness among our people. And, through our own programming, dedicated counselling and mental health staff in addition to our community partnerships, Kwanlin Dun is committed to and consistently involved in initiatives that promote raising awareness about the breadth and impact of mental illness.

In the Aug. 29 article, the need for aftercare services following detox programming were indicated as “needed or missing” by others quoted in the article.

Had Kwanlin Dun been approached for comment on this article, we would have informed the reporter that a three-year funding deal with the federal government has provided for the hiring of a dedicated team of staff to provide pre-program and aftercare services.

This funding deal with the federal government and availability of aftercare services were announced through a media release in connection to a conference Kwanlin Dun hosted in March around sharing best practices in land-based healing programming that drew attendance from across the nation.

Also announced at that time was a two-year funding arrangement with Yukon government that enables the program to offer additional intakes, and in effect, help even more Yukoners struggling with addictions. That’s correct; the Jackson Lake land-based healing program operated by Kwanlin Dun is open to all Yukoners struggling with addictions because Kwanlin Dun and its government partners recognize that issues of addiction and surrounding issues affect people from all backgrounds.

Kwanlin Dun and Yukon government also hosted a media event in May to sign the two-year funding agreement that was hosted at the Jackson Lake healing camp. The event was attended by all local media outlets and included the viewing of a video with background about the program along with a site tour and presentations by program staff.

The video about the Jackson Lake program is published on Kwanlin Dun First Nation’s YouTube channel and was produced last February; it’s clear from the video, that the response and resulting funding partnerships with both the federal and Yukon governments was timely and relevant to the need and was in place in time to support the program during its summer operating months.

It’s frustrating that although Kwanlin Dun has made a considerable effort to share information about its initiatives and programming that institutions like the Yukon News continue to attempt to portray Kwanlin Dun as neglecting to act in any capacity on said issues.

While not directly related to issues along the waterfront, over the summer, I did issue a comment in relation to the public apology issued by Sirius Security regarding its personnel targeting aboriginal people downtown.

In that statement, beyond commenting specifically to the apology, I made a point of commenting on the larger issues affecting not only the waterfront, but the downtown core including businesses that operate in the area.

Within the limited opportunity that this letter provides, I have demonstrated numerous ways that our First Nation has committed over the long term to programming and initiatives to impact these serious issues.

I’ll close with my previous comments and notably, the only comments provided “on record” to Yukon News on this issue, which to me, are a far cry from “passing the buck.”

I had stated that these problems are not “just a First Nation issue, but a community issue” and that “while our council supports any citizens who experience racial discrimination, our council also understands the challenge that the businesses in the area are facing concerning activity in the downtown area. Our council believes that a coordinated approach and partnership on part of governments, the business community, concerned citizens and law enforcement officials is needed to address these larger issues.”

Doris Bill is chief of the Yukon First Nation.

Editor’s note:

The Yukon News agrees with Bill on the importance of the Jackson Lake Healing Centre. That’s why we’ve given that project considerable past coverage.

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation wasn’t contacted for our waterfront story because the issues described affect more people than the First Nation’s citizens.

It should also be noted that this newspaper gives Wyatt a long leash to draw cartoons as he chooses. He enjoys the same leeway as a columnist, and his slant is not dictated by the editor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. The proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion project is moving closer to development with a number of milestones reached by the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership and Yukon Energy over the last several months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Atlin hydro project progresses

Officials reflect on milestones reached

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read