First Nations ignore CAIRS plight

The Committee on Abuse in Residential School can pay its bills for at least one more month. A five-hour fundraiser on CHON FM, the local First Nation radio station, raised $9,000 last Friday.

The Committee on Abuse in Residential School can pay its bills for at least one more month.

A five-hour fundraiser on CHON FM, the local First Nation radio station, raised $9,000 last Friday.

But executive Director Joanne Henry is finding it hard to be happy.

This week, Henry got a phone call from Vancouver.

One of her past clients went down there to attend a meeting with the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The gatherings are intended to collect survivors’ stories so the commission can document the history.

“The TRC is supposed to be the positive end,” said Henry.

But like many, she criticizes the lack of support and follow-up offered to people who come and reopen very deep, dark wounds.

The past client who phoned, like most of Henry’s clients, found a home at CAIRS – a safe place to try and relearn traditional art and practices. Most of all, he found friends within Henry and her staff – people to call when he needed to talk.

“After the meeting, he started drinking again,” said Henry. “And he can’t afford to be drinking again.”

But the bad news from Vancouver isn’t the only thing bothering Henry.

While the fundraiser went well, it also drew attention to First Nations’ indifference to their own people’s problems.

Throughout the entire five hours, only one First Nation government called in.

The Vuntut Gwitch’in First Nation pledged $500, and while on-air, challenged all other First Nations to meet and beat its pledge.

Out of all the other 13 First Nations, only one call came in from the Kwanlin Dun Health Department with a pledge of $200.

“I really hope the communities have something for their survivors because this showed me that residential school is not a priority,” said Henry.

But Henry knows there isn’t much out there. She spent nearly three months travelling at the request of many of the First Nations this past fall.

“And once this place is gone, there is going to be nothing,” she said about CAIRS.

The territorial government hasn’t made much of an effort either – despite what was said in the legislative assembly this past week.

“I have been in consultation on several occasions with the CAIRS Society with regard to their funding,” said Glenn Hart, Minister of Health and Social Services on Monday. “In fact, this government has forwarded letters to the federal government requesting additional funding to suffice the CAIRS Society with their funding toward enabling them to continue on with their valuable service.”

“I have not heard one word from him,” said Henry.

The Minister did respond to a letter written to him from the Council of Yukon First Nations.

Henry knows because the council forwarded it to her.

In that response, he mentioned he was forwarding the council’s letter to Ottawa.

But Henry never received a response to the letter she wrote and hand delivered to Hart’s office. Nor did she receive any response from him or Premier Dennis Fentie after she invited them to CAIRS’ Christmas open house, she said.

In the legislature on Monday, Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell continued to question the government and Fentie spoke up.

He talked about how CAIRS was established under the federal Aboriginal Healing Foundation and how that money had a mandated end.

“Everybody’s passing the buck,” said Henry. “Residential school is not just Harper’s problem. Plus, they support organizations like the Salvation Army. If they are funding the Salvation Army aren’t they funding residential schools too, because who do they think hangs out there?”

But there are significant differences between CAIRS and the Salvation Army, especially when it comes to alcohol and drugs, said Henry.

Still, Henry is grateful to all the individuals who supported CAIRS through the fundraiser, she said.

“The majority of them were just regular Joes.”

The $9,000 will cover another month’s rent, utilities and wages for herself and the one other staffer, she said.

CAIRS’ current building on Fourth Avenue is inefficient and half of it cannot be used, so the rent is ridiculous, she explained.

“So today, we still have no real future plans,” she said. “But tomorrow could be different. It’s always a different day.”

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

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

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read