The Carcross/Tagish First Nation demolished a building formerly part of the Chootla Indian Residential School, but Carcross resident Dwayne Johnson claims he owned the building. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Carcross man says CTFN demolished building he owned as part of residential school cleanup

‘Three-thousand dollars wouldn’t even build a lean-to for my car to stand under’

Carcross/Tagish First Nation citizen Dwayne Johnson claims the First Nation knocked down a three-bay garage that he owns without his consent.

The garage was once part of the Chootla Indian Residential School, which was operated by the Anglican Church in Carcross from 1911 to 1969. As part of a healing, environmental and social remediation process, the CTFN is demolishing buildings associated with the school.

The garage was torn down June 10 by the CTFN development corporation. The company said it demolished the building on the orders of CTFN and the federal government.

“We did demolish that building,” said Nelson Lapine, managing director for the development corporation. “CTFN is the owner as far as I know.”

There are many social and emotional issues tied up with the school, Lapine said.

“We respect what the Carcross/Tagish First Nation mandates,” he said. “We’re really a very small part of this.”

Johnson said he bought the building from his uncle, Howard Atlin, for $2,500. He provided the News with a copy of the handwritten bill of sale detailing the purchase, dated June 10, 1990. Atlin acquired the building from CTFN, he said.

Johnson provided a copy of a band council resolution dated November 19, 1985, between the then-Carcross Tagish Indian Band and Atlin, which stated that Atlin had requested to use the building and been granted access to it as a woodworking facility. Atlin was responsible for any costs associated with the building, it said.

“Whereas the Chootla School lands and associated buildings are under the jurisdiction of Carcross Tagish Indian Band…. Therefore let it be resolved that Carcross Tagish Indian Band agrees that Howard Atlin use the Chootla garage for the said purpose (of a woodworking shop).”

While the letter Johnson provided only states that the CTFN granted his uncle the permission to use the building, Atlin said he eventually obtained legal ownership. Given how long ago the transfer was made, he said, he is not sure where the receipt is. However, he had to have and show legal ownership to the electricity company in order to have power installed at the time, he said.

“That was the only way to get power in there with Yukon Electric then, was to show ownership,” he said.

Janet Patterson, spokesperson for Yukon Energy, said proof of ownership would one of the things that would be required to hook up electrical service.

Atlin said he had the electrical utilities in the building installed, the infrastructure of which would later be used by the houses adjacent to the property.

“I put all that in there… and then people started hooking up to it,” he said.

Johnson provided the News with a receipt from August 14, 1986, which show Atlin paid $1,540 to Swales Electric to wire the shop.

Johnson said he had not used the building for several years. In 2012, he suffered from an accident that left him in a wheelchair and unable to work. Prior to that, he said, he had worked as his uncle’s apprentice in the shop, and had used the building as a garage to do auto painting and body work.

Johnson said he did not receive a formal letter from CTFN informing him they planned to tear down the building.

“I went to all these meetings (about the remediation) and it was all for nothing, they still kept me in the dark,” he said.

Johnson’s friend Stan James Jr. was using a shed behind the garage that was also part of the residential school. It was demolished at the same time as the garage. James said he didn’t have a legal title to the property, but that he had been using it “for years and years,” and had put money into its repair and upkeep.

“When I found it, it was all falling down, run down,” he said. “I fixed it up, painted it, put a door on it.”

Two calls to Michelle Parsons, the executive director of CTFN, and four calls to Daphne Pelletier, the communications manager for CTFN, made between July 10 and July 11, went unreturned. CTFN chief Andy Carvill spoke to the News late in the afternoon of July 11, but declined to go on the record.

CTFN offered Johnson $3,000 in compensation for the building last week, Johnson said, and told him “not to think about the offer too long.”

Johnson said the offer was not in cash, but in credit for lumber.

“It was a pretty huge garage,” he said. “Three thousand dollars wouldn’t even build a lean-to for my car to stand under.”

Johnson said he declined the payout.

“I just want people to know about what’s been going on,” he said.

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com

CarcrossCarcross Tagish First Nationresidential schools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read