Burwash Landing brothers sentenced to house arrest

Derek Johnson and Wilfred Sheldon, two Burwash Landing brothers who were convicted in late 2014 of forcible confinement, have been found guilty of breaching their probation order.

Derek Johnson and Wilfred Sheldon, two Burwash Landing brothers who were convicted in late 2014 of forcible confinement, have been found guilty of breaching their probation order.

The man who the brothers forcibly confined, Collin Johnson, later committed suicide, and the case has profoundly divided the community, the court was told in the first trial.

Judge Donald Luther yesterday gave them each a 45-day conditional sentence to be served at their residence.

They have to report to a probation supervisor, and follow a number of conditions, including not possessing or using alcohol or drugs. They were also each sentenced to 24 hours of community service and a $100 victim surcharge fine.

Both had entered a guilty plea.

Sheldon failed to report to his probation officer twice, noted the Crown, Eric Marcoux.

But other than those two instances, “there has been continuous reporting,” said David Tarnow, Sheldon’s lawyer.

“It’s unfortunate this had to happen.”

Tarnow and Marcoux made a joint submission to the judge for the sentence.

Tarnow highlighted that Sheldon had two daughters and one grandchild. Sheldon operates the only First Nation-owned heating and plumbing business in the territory and employs three people, he said.

The judge accepted the joint submission, as it fell within the range of acceptable sentences for that charge.

Violation of a bail order is usually met by a jail sentence, but given Sheldon’s family and employment situation, the conditional sentence could apply, said Luther.

If Sheldon were to breach his new terms, he would finish what would remain of the 45 days in jail, the judge warned.

Johnson, who was self-represented at the hearing, testified he went to a treatment centre in British Columbia and couldn’t contact his bail supervisor.

Johnson lives in Atlin and Sheldon in Teslin.

Johnson said he wasn’t allowed to access phones or computers at the treatment facility.

Johnson’s probation officer, Troy Cairns, testified he had given him permission to leave the territory for treatment, but that his office was only closed for statutory holidays, leaving ample time for Johnson to report between the time he got back from his treatment, on December 19, and January 2, when he finally reported back, Cairns said.

Luther also told Johnson he could have brought his bail order with him and showed it to the facility staff, who would have most likely arranged to allow him access to a phone.

Luther gave the same sentence to Johnson despite having breached his order only once, but noted he had a longer criminal record, including three breaches of probation orders.

“It balances itself off,” said the judge.

In January 2015, Sheldon was sentenced to 18 months’ probation while Derek Johnson received a six-month conditional sentence, as well as 12 months’ probation.

They’re also barred from returning to Burwash Landing. On January 15 the Kluane First Nation passed a resolution stating it wouldn’t be wise to allow the individuals back in the community.

The brothers are back in court today in a case against the First Nation. They’re suing over their eviction that occurred in February.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at


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