Feds cut funding to aboriginal groups

The federal government is cutting back funding to 123 aboriginal organizations across Canada.

The federal government is cutting back funding to 123 aboriginal organizations across Canada.

In the territory, the Council of Yukon First Nations’ core funding will drop by 10 per cent and the Kaska Dena Council, which serves the Yukon’s two Kaska groups, as well as three others in B.C., will see its funding cut by more than half.

It’s part of an effort to make funding more equitable and better directed to priorities like education, economic development and promoting healthier communities, said John Duncan, minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development, last week.

Federal funding for the Kaska Dena Council rang up to $431,465 this year. By 2014, that will be capped at $200,000.

The Council of Yukon First Nations received $408,393 in core funding from Ottawa this year. That will drop to $367,554 by 2014.

“It is a substantial impact,” said Michelle Kolla, executive director of the council, which co-ordinates joint initiatives for the territory’s self-governing First Nations.

The council’s programming and main employee base is largely funded by Yukon First Nations and the territorial government. The core funding from the federal government “only affects the executive,” said Kolla.

That means that only the grand chief, the executive director and the executive assistant positions should feel any impacts from the 2014 cuts.

“We just heard about it, so we’re just kind of going through the information and figuring out the direct impact,” said Kolla. “We have made contact with (the local office of the federal department) as well as the member of Parliament to commit to working to a solution going forward.”

Grand Chief Ruth Massie was unavailable for comment this week.

The national Assembly of First Nations has spoken out against last week’s announcement.

In a release, National Chief Shawn Atleo called the cuts “severe” and “unilateral decisions” that would lead to job loss and “will further harm the safety and security of (aboriginal) communities” all across Canada.

The federal department has defended the cuts by saying it is shifting from funding organizations to funding programs and services. This year’s federal budget includes “$275 million in new funding for First Nation education, and additional $330.8 million to build and renovate water infrastructure on reserve and improve water quality for First Nation communities, $27 million to renew the Urban Aboriginal Strategy, and $13.6 million to support aboriginal consultation on resource development projects,” according to last week’s release.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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