Yukon First Nations are questioning the sincerity of the Yukon government’s intention to include them in setting policing priorities for the territory.
The government recently named six people to the new Yukon Police Council. Of the three names put forward by the Council of Yukon First Nations, only one was appointed.
“I don’t think they considered the value of the submissions from CYFN,” said Grand Chief Ruth Massie. “We take our work very, very seriously. If they questioned any of our recommended nominees, we should have been called.”
The First Nations were aware the Department of Justice would make the final call, but they never believed their nominees would be disregarded, said Massie.
“The expectation was that we had the opportunity to appoint three (police council members),” she said. “Why would you not adhere to a decision from 10 self-governing First Nation chiefs?”
The same recommendation that established the council also said it would be “composed of six members appointed by the minister, three of whom will be nominated by First Nations.”
It is the first recommendation of the Sharing Common Ground final report, published by the Yukon government in 2011.
The report was the final piece of a territory-wide police review, co-chaired by the Council of Yukon First Nations justice manager Simone Arnold.
The police review focused on rebuilding relationships between the RCMP, women and First Nations. Yukon First Nations widely participated and respected that process, said Massie.
Shortly after the review wrapped up, First Nations began the process of picking their three nominees.
The chiefs returned to their communities, outlined the process, the responsibility and the opportunity it presented, Massie said.
It took a year for the First Nations to pick three people.
“We went through a very rigorous process in our boards’ and committees’ selection process,” Massie explained. “We had over 40 applicants. What we had wanted was regional representation. So we selected one from the North, one locally and one who had been involved with the law previously.”
The council then forwarded its selections to the Department of Justice.
When Massie received a call from Justice Minister Mike Nixon, she was shocked to hear that CYFN’s three selections were thrown into the mix of 10 people selected for interviews by the department.
“It begs the question of the respect of the decision of self-governing First Nation chiefs,” said Massie.
It was also upsetting to see that the other five council members chosen by the territorial government are not any familiar faces from work on the police review, said Massie.
“There were several people involved in the Sharing Common Ground process,” she said. “There was aboriginal women’s groups, there was the general public. It was actually a very onerous process and it was very thorough. And I don’t see any of the names of any of the persons that I know diligently participated in that process on this list.”
Massie said she has not finished the discussion with Nixon on the matter. The issue is on CYFN’s leadership meeting agenda this week and the minister has been invited to meet.
NDP Justice critic Lois Moorcroft has also written to the minister, wondering why the police council wasn’t selected through the standing committee on appointments to major boards and committees.
The purpose of the police council is to act as a middleman between the RCMP and Department of Justice and the public. It is intended to provide advice to the minister, who sets the RCMP’s priorities and signs the contract to hire the police.
The new council is chaired by the deputy minister of Justice, Dennis Cooley. The six members are Lisa Anderson, William Klassen, Doris McLean, Michael Riseborough, Patricia Daws and David LeBarge.
It first meeting is set for late March.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at