Open letter to Yukon News and Whitehorse Star:
Your publications, as well as the CBC, CHON and CKRW, go a long way to shape the views of Yukon citizens. Recently, I have read the letter to the editor from both the Yukon and Whitehorse aboriginal women’s councils in response to Liard First Nation’s decision to withdraw support for the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society (LAWS).
You, as the print media, did not print my full letter to the LAWS board. As such the story has evolved with the perception that LFN is withdrawing support because this is a women’s group. This is of course fundamentally not the case and it would have been evident to the public if you had chosen to actually print my letter.
In that letter I made it very clear that LFN was withdrawing support for LAWS because LAWS had received very significant amounts of public funding, yet it has taken the position through its legal counsel over the last year that it is not accountable to the membership of Liard First Nation or other Kaska citizens.
The issue is not the goals that LAWS has with respect to violence. I and my council have steadfastly supported those goals over the years and have placed our names on numerous funding applications to that end. The issue, fundamentally, is accountability.
There are many residential school survivors, young LFN citizens, and individuals in need of drug and alcohol or sexual abuse counselling that could have benefitted from the resources LAWS receives.
I and my council endorse and commend the Yukon and Whitehorse aboriginal women’s councils for an extremely well-written statement in the Wednesday newspaper. The whole letter was well done and in particular the final paragraphs where it stated: “We support a right to freedom from violence for all community members but particularly women, children, elders and others who may be vulnerable. We are here to help people and strengthen a zero-tolerance policy against all actions that violate the emotional and physical safety of others.”
Yes, violence and intimidation are unfortunately still far too common in our society. I have had LFN members who are women complain about the violence and shunning and the abuse of power that goes on in our community in the present day. Perhaps some of these women will one day find the strength to talk to YAWC and WAWC and share their thoughts on what is going on in our community.
Chief Liard McMillan
Liard First Nation