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.

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Yukon News file
A 21-year-old man is in custody after a stabbing in Porter Creek on May 14.
One man in hospital, another in custody, after alleged stabbing in Porter Creek

A police dog was used to track the suspect who was later arrested in a wooded area.

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Former Liberal MLA Pauline Frost speaks to reporters outside the courthouse on April 19. One of the voters accused of casting an invalid vote has been granted intervenor status in the lawsuit Frost filed last month. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Voters named in Pauline Frost election lawsuit ask to join court proceedings

The judge granted Christopher Schafer intervenor status

Most Read