Racism is at root of prisoner’s mistreatment

Racism is at root of prisoner's mistreatment I am writing to express my outrage on behalf of the Tahltan people at the treatment of one of our members, Michael Nehass, by the Whitehorse Correctional Centre as reported in your editorial on May 16, 2014.

I am writing to express my outrage on behalf of the Tahltan people at the treatment of one of our members, Michael Nehass, by the Whitehorse Correctional Centre as reported in your editorial on May 16, 2014.

I am president of the Tahltan Central Council, a governing body of the Tahltan Nation, and am confident that I speak for all our people in condemning the inhumane treatment shown to Michael. If the reported details are correct, he is clearly a troubled young man who needs support to straighten his life out. He may even be responsible for actions that deserve punishment. But no one – be he red, white, yellow or black – deserves to be in solitary confinement for days on end, and then humiliated by being presented in public court naked, shackled and held to the floor. It is sickening to think that this is the way correctional staff treat our people.

I am sure the correctional staff will say that he acts out, may even be violent. How would you feel, I ask, if you were stuck in a windowless cell for days on end with no human contact? And if we only learned about this because of the courage of Michael’s father, Russell, in bringing his human rights complaint, how much more goes on behind the closed prison doors without anyone knowing?

There is no escaping the fact that Michael’s aboriginal status is the fundamental reason why he is subjected to such abusive treatment. The centuries of cultural genocide inflicted on our people continues to be felt, generation after generation, and no doubt shaped the path that Michael is on. There is equally no doubt in my mind that it is the fact that he is aboriginal – an “Indian” – that gives correctional staff the licence to treat him like a non-human. The abuse he is suffering is just one more step in the cycle of discrimination inflicted on the aboriginal peoples of Canada that has been going on for centuries.

The only silver lining that I can see in this story is that it will hopefully push this issue into the spotlight and lead to an investigation of Michael’s treatment, and the use of solitary confinement in the WCC in general. But for now, all I can say is shame, shame on everyone who participated in humiliating and degrading this young aboriginal man.

Annita McPhee

President, Tahltan

Central Council

Dease Lake, B.C.

Just Posted

The Fireweed Market in Shipyards Park will open on May 13. Joel Krahn/Yukon News
Whitehorse’s Fireweed Market opens May 13

The Fireweed Market will return with ‘exciting’ new and returning vendors

Ron Rousseau holds a sign saying ‘It’s time for a cultural shift’ during the Yukoners: Raise Your Voice Against Misogyny rally on May 11. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Protest held to condemn Yukon Party MLAs’ texts

A rally was held outside of legislature to condemn the inappropriate texts messages of Yukon Party MLAs Stacey Hassard and Wade Istchenko.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 12, 2021.… Continue reading

Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley announced youth vaccination clinics planned for this summer. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon government file)
Vaccination campaign planned for Yukon youth age 12 and up

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for younger people on May 5.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced two new cases of COVID-19 on May 11. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two new cases of COVID-19 reported, one in the Yukon and one Outside

One person is self-isolating, the other will remain Outside until non-infectious

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

Haley Ritchie/Yukon News file
File photo of the legislative assembly. The previous spring sitting began on March 4 but was interrupted due to the election.
Throne speech kicks off short spring legislature sitting

The government will now need to pass the budget.

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Most Read