Skip to content

Ross River Dena Council declares state of emergency

Declared in response to disappearance of citizen, illegal drug and alcohol sales and wandering bear.
Ross River Dena Council chief Dylan Loblaw. (Yukon News Files)

Ross River has declared a state of emergency in hopes of holding off a variety of “serious and life threatening issues.”

The disappearance of one of its citizens, the prevalence of drug and alcohol trafficking and dangerous wildlife have all left the community’s leadership feeling as though it is under siege.

The state of emergency was declared by the Ross River Dena Council’s (RRDC) band council and made public on May 12. The declaration is based on the April 21 disappearance of RRDC citizen Ramona Peter, the ongoing issue of people entering the small town northeast of Whitehorse to traffic drugs or bootleg alcohol and a black bear that has been putting RRDC citizens at risk as it wanders through the community.

Peter remains missing almost a month after her disappearance. The Yukon RCMP and Yukon Search and rescue have participated in the search but RRDC leadership wants to see more done.

“These are serious and life-threatening issues. Ross River Dena Council desperately needs help from the Government of Yukon. The search for Ramona Peter is imperative. We will not stop looking for her. We will not give up on her. We call on Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai to provide immediate assistance as we continue to search for our beloved sister, including human and financial resources,” said RRDC Chief Dylan Loblaw.

Peter was reported missing April 28. She was last seen April 21 wearing a long blue winter jacket. She is described as 40 years old, 5’6” tall with long black hair and brown eyes.

Loblaw and the rest of the RRDC leadership is also concerned with the proliferation of drugs and bootlegged alcohol in the community.

“Our community is besieged by drug dealers and bootleggers who creep into our town under cover of night, preying on vulnerable people,” Loblaw said.

“We will not allow this predatory behaviour to continue. We have a clear message for those individuals who are destroying the lives of our people: Ross River is not open for business. Stay out.”

The resolution passed by the RRDC council states that it will take “all necessary steps” to stop people from entering the community to sell drugs or alcohol.

In recent weeks, a black bear has been wandering through Ross River and trapping efforts by conservation officers have proven unsuccessful. Loblaw said the bear poses a threat to the people of Ross River, especially children and elders. He wants the territorial government to trap and relocate it.

The combined issues have caused major difficulties for Ross River.

“Ross River is struggling to cope. We are a very small First Nation with limited resources. We beseech the Yukon and federal governments to help us. We can not do this alone,” Loblaw said.

The Ross River Dena Council is the third Yukon First Nation to declare a state of emergency in recent months.

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation declared a state of emergency in response to overdose deaths in early 2022. The territorial government followed suit with a territory-wide emergency days later. More recently, the chief and council of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun declared an emergency in March following the shooting deaths of two men in Mayo.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
Read more