letter to the editor301

In a time of loss I would like to thank the individuals and agencies who responded so professionally to our tragic work train accident on September…

In a time of loss

I would like to thank the individuals and agencies who responded so professionally to our tragic work train accident on September 3, at milepost 36.5, between Log Cabin and Bennett, BC.

The quick response, mobilization and co-ordination of the various responders on a long weekend was truly impressive.

Words cannot express how grateful we are for their service during this very difficult situation.

We would like to recognize and thank the Skagway fire department search and rescue and EMT team; the Carcross and Tagish first responders; Temsco Helicopters and Trans-North Helicopters; the RCMP, the Whitehorse fire department; Yukon department of Highways and Canadian customs.

It makes us proud to be residents of the North, where we come together from both sides of the border to assist in a time of need.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with our employees and their families and friends who have suffered deeply as a result of this accident.


Gary C. Danielson, president, White Pass and Yukon Route

Will it ever end?

Two and a half years after the last voided election, a year and four months after being ordered to hold a new election by her own judicial council, and seven months after being ordered to do so by a Yukon Supreme Court judge, the acting chief and her board has called for an election for the Ta’an Kwach’an Council!

This should be good news and, no doubt, will be a rewarding period for her supporters, but there are those of us who are concerned that there has been no general assembly held since 2003.

Every other Yukon First Nation advertised a general assembly this past summer, except, of course, the Ta’an.

The requirements for a general assembly are very clearly laid out in the Ta’an constitution, but as we have seen, the Ta’an constitution appears to be regarded more as “suggestions” than law.

A general assembly would allow the citizens, not just the acting chief and her supporters, to have a say in our government and the newly released “election act” and to address a few of our other concerns, including our desire for a forensic audit.

I think that would give us an opportunity to participate in what’s known as “self-government.”

There has been great debate among us and within the courts regarding the “traditional.”

What we and all First Nations have been taught since we were children is that we follow our mother’s line; we are a matriarchal society that follow our mother’s moiety.

That is traditional and non-negotiable. The “non-traditional” people, in addition to being opposed by the traditional people for the strain that they place on our resources and the disregard they hold for the traditional Ta’an are also depriving themselves and their children and grandchildren of a their own rich proud heritage, opting instead to pretend to be Ta’an.

It is most interesting that the newly formed election committee contains no traditional Ta’an.

Worst, at least one is a relative of the acting chief and was a participant on the original election committee who, along with the board, failed to do her job and ensure that all the candidates in the previous election were eligible to stand as candidates.

It is clear the main requirements for these appointments were their lack of ties to traditional Ta’an and that the appointments were based solely on their ties to the acting chief and council.

Because at least three traditional Ta’an families refuse to participate in this government, it has been difficult for the acting chief to hold meetings with quorum.

This motion of non-confidence by these three traditional governing families has not prevented this group from paying themselves for attending meetings and passing motions without the required quorum.

During times when they are “in a pickle,” to quote one of the acting chief’s lawyers, they have been known to appoint any available supporter to reach their “quorum,” again, a violation of the “suggestions” in the constitution.

Time will tell if this group had the required quorum to pass the election rules and call this election.

Pass the pickles please.

Bonnie Harpe, Susie Jim Family, Ta’an Kwach’an Council


Grateful neighbours

My country is marking a somber, yet sacred and special anniversary: five years since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. 

It is a time of remembrance and reflection.

For most Americans and, indeed, for many millions around the world, we’ll always remember what happened that day: Where we were and who we were with when we first heard the news.

We’ll remember a specific image — a firefighter’s last stand, a flag rising from twisted rubble, a candle in the night.

I wasn’t serving in Canada on September 11, 2001. But I know how Canadians reacted to the shocking news.

Thousands gathered on Parliament Hill for a memorial service in my country’s honour, and in cities large and small across this country, countless individuals came together to express their sorrow and offer their help.

I’ve seen the poignant pictures of the hundreds of planes landed on Canadian airfields and heard the stories of how Canadians opened up their hearts and homes to the thousands of scared and stranded passengers in those dark days following the worst terror attack in US history.

It’s been said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

So as my country marks five years since that fateful day, I want to express to our Canadian friends on behalf of the United States our continuing thanks and deepest gratitude.

In the 14 months Susan and I have been privileged to be here in your vast and beautiful country, we’ve done a lot of travelling, visiting every province and territory.

We feel blessed to have experienced the same kind of generosity of spirit the Canadian people showed to our fellow citizens five years ago when destiny would land them here at Canada’s door and into your welcoming arms. 

For days following the attacks and the closing of North American airspace, Canadians cared for these stranded and weary airline passengers as if they had always been expected.

And for these fortunate travellers, grace and mercy and overwhelming human kindness are also their images of 9-11.

Five years ago, in the daze and confusion of what had just happened and the certain peril of what lay ahead, President Bush prayed that, “God would watch over us, grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come.”

And now, five years later, we know we’re still vulnerable. We still need protection, and perhaps more than ever, patience and resolve in even greater measure as heroes fall on distant battlefields and the enemies of freedom wage their war against our way of life.

These are difficult times, but I believe our highest values will prevail, the values we share with Canada and with all other freedom-loving peoples.

They are the very opposite values of those who use hate and fear as weapons, who turn civilian airplanes into missiles and target the defenceless and the innocent.

We cannot and do not accept a world led by those who brought us 9-11.

And so five years later, we persevere. And we pray. We honour the victims of 9-11 and the rescue workers, volunteers and ordinary citizens, and all the troops and their families who have made freedom’s cause their own.

The people of the United States of America offer our heartfelt gratitude, respect and appreciation to the citizens of Canada.

We will never forget your compassion, your empathy and your open arms five years ago.

 Canada was a shining light in our darkest hour.

David H. Wilkins, US ambassador