First Nations’ money talks making headway

Yukon's 11 self-governing First Nations should have new funding agreements by April, says Chuck Strahl, minister of Indian and Northern Affairs.

Yukon’s 11 self-governing First Nations should have new funding agreements by April, says Chuck Strahl, minister of Indian and Northern Affairs.

Strahl made the announcement in Haines Junction on Wednesday, after meeting with First Nation chiefs and Grand Chief Andy Carvill.

The talks are a big deal for First Nations, who blame much of their capacity problems on a lack of funding from Ottawa.

Yukon’s First Nations are currently expected to deliver local services to residents with about one-third of the funding that is used by the Yukon territorial government, said Diane Strand, chief of the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation.

She calls this imbalance “grossly” disproportionate, considering that First Nations are expected to deliver services on par with the rest of Canada.

But reaching a new agreement hasn’t been easy.

Similar negotiations fell through last year, resulting in a one-year extension of funding arrangements that had been struck one decade ago.

To break the impasse, talks this year have taken a narrower focus on ensuring that First Nation offices are adequately staffed, and excluding more complicated questions surrounding how much money is required to deliver services related to such things as education, health and housing.

For Ottawa to meet its April deadline, major negotiations would have to be complete by November, said Strahl.

Strahl’s talks coincided with a meeting of the Yukon Forum – a gathering of First Nation chiefs and Premier Dennis Fentie.

Though the forum was once dismissed by chiefs as little more than a feel-good publicity exercise, chiefs left the forum feeling encouraged by the willingness of Fentie to discuss their concerns, such as the difficulties First Nations face in meeting deadlines to provide feedback on proposed legislation, said Strand.

They also discussed the new northern economic development agency announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier this year, which is based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and will have branch offices in Yellowknife and Whitehorse.

Yukon’s chiefs want an oversight committee, with representation from First Nations and the territorial government, that would vet the spending decisions of the new organization to ensure its projects will benefit the territory, said Strand.

“It will work if it’s from the bottom-up,” she said of the agency.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read