Intergovernmental leaders converging at a forum in Whitehorse on May 24 talked through some tough conversations, for example, around self-governing First Nations seeking health care in the territory.
Grand Chief Peter Johnston of the Council of Yukon First Nations told reporters during a press conference after the forum it was one of the most important topics discussed among those in power given that “we’re still caught in the system.”
Representatives from the federal government, territorial government and self-governing Yukon First Nations met at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre to discuss a number of items identified as common priorities, such as renewable energy and climate change, Canada’s Arctic and northern policy framework, land use planning and the legacy of residential schools.
Johnston said that a separate wall of government-supported glasses at the optometrist for First Nations with non-insured health benefits in the Yukon to look at provides an example of “systematic racism.”
“What we’re dealing with is First Nations just having less than, if you will, when it comes to not only eye care and dentistry, and other health matters,” he said.
“This has been around for a long time as a secondary service for health care here.”
The forum started in 2002, and brings together signatories of the Yukon First Nations final and self-government agreements. It had not been held since before the pandemic.
“When we stop talking, that’s when things are going to go really bad, so we have to have these conversations,” said Premier Sandy Silver, who joined the conference virtually.
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