The recent death in Ross River by stray dogs is such a tragedy in so many ways. A young man was killed. This was an ongoing issue that the Yukon Party chose not to work with Ross River on to prevent. And there is an underlying racism among many commentators, basically blaming the victim for his own death.
How much money is a young person’s life worth, and how many more lost lives will it take to make the Yukon government finally act? Ross River Dena Council is still under the Indian Act, so they don’t have the money, resources and law-making authority that the self-governing First Nations do. That’s why the Yukon government needs to work with them to resolve this and other major issues facing their people.
One of these issues is the lack of mental health services for Ross River. Individuals who are wanting to heal have a hard time accessing the government services that they need and that just adds to the problems facing the community.
No matter what the circumstances, Shane Glada didn’t deserve to die and people shouldn’t be trying to blame him or the people of Ross River for this. Yes, there are societal issues facing Ross River, as there are facing all native communities, and those must be looked at and dealt with. But there’s an emergency now that needs immediate action.
If there’s a house on fire, you don’t start off by trying to figure out how it started or who’s to “blame.” You first save the people inside and then try to put out the flames so it doesn’t spread any further. After all that, then you try to figure out why.
We need a government in the Yukon that is wanting to work with all Yukoners, especially the Yukon First Nations, as equal partners. The only time the Yukon Party seems to sit down with us is when they are forced to in court.
That’s not building a Yukon together for the good of all Yukoners. That’s the politics of division, and I have faith in my fellow Yukoners that in the upcoming territorial election this divisive attitude along with the Yukon Party will be replaced with the spirit of unity and collaboration that makes this Yukon.
Duane Gastant’ Aucoin