Former Kluane chief tells court his eviction was spurred by political vendetta

Wilfred Sheldon and his brother Derek Johnson were back in court on May 29 in a case against the Kluane First Nation, which evicted the brothers from their homes in February.

Wilfred Sheldon and his brother Derek Johnson were back in court on May 29 in a case against the Kluane First Nation, which evicted the brothers from their homes in February.

The two brothers were sentenced in January for the forcible confinement of Collin Johnson in the summer of 2013. Collin Johnson later committed suicide.

Kluane First Nation council sent to the sentencing hearing a resolution it had passed, stating it wouldn’t be wise to allow the brothers back into the community.

On February 18, KFN changed the locks to Sheldon and Johnson’s homes.

The brothers are now arguing the eviction is part of a bigger political agenda, saying the community is split between two big families: their’s and the chief’s.

They had applied through KFN to enter into a home ownership program. But the program was never completed and neither Sheldon nor Johnson own their respective homes, said Graham Lang, KFN’s council.

Once an application is filed, it has to be approved and a formal contract had to be signed, he said.

“You can’t be half pregnant. Same, you can’t be half homeowner,” he said.

As of today, KFN pays the mortgages for the home as well as insurance and taxes.

“What’s clear is something happened that derailed intention to ownership,” Lang said.

Since they weren’t owners of the house, they had to be under a tenancy agreement, he said.

In 2014, KFN adopted a rental and housing policy, but the Yukon’s Landlord and Tenant Act still applies, Lang said.

The act allows a landlord to terminate a lease if the tenants have vacated the premises, as Sheldon and Johnson did, Lang said.

If the court were to find they hadn’t vacated it, KFN still notified the brothers 30 days in advance that they were terminating the tenancy – a power available under the new housing policy.

“The First Nation disputes the fact it is the result of a political vendetta,” said Lang.

“The situation is unfortunate, but is the result of court action and actions of the brothers,” he said.

A court order currently prevents them from coming back to Burwash Landing.

Sheldon and Johnson are representing themselves in court, with the assistance of Ken Hodgins, who was the executive director of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation for two years.

Hodgins told the court that home ownership is not as black-and-white as Lang makes it sound.

He pointed to problems with the new rental policy adopted by KFN council.

The policy was not adopted during the 2014 annual general assembly, and was instead sent back to council. In the end, council adopted it without consulting its members again, he said.

“The chief can evict somebody without cause – people are only starting to realize that clause,” said Hodgins.

“It invites political abuse,” he said. “This is extraordinary unconventional.”

Citing a newsletter sent out to the community, Hodgins also disputed that the First Nation faces a housing shortage – one of the rationales offered for evicting the brothers. “It has been determined there are enough housing, none will be built in 2015,” he read.

It all comes back to 2008, according to Hodgins, when Sheldon defeated the incumbent chief.

He also denied the home had been vacated, since Sheldon’s family had been sleeping at his house on occasions. Johnson’s family couldn’t do the same due to a break-in that put their safety at risk, he said.

The brothers’ mother, Agnes Johnson, told the court there was a “big line” between both families.

“It will take four generations to heal,” she said.

“My daughter Kathleen Johnson was evicted from her home too,” saying the tension was so high she was afraid to go pick up the mail.

More importantly, KFN is breaching Johnson and Sheldon’s aboriginal rights, Hodgins said.

“They can’t stay in the community they’ve lived in and (they can’t) exercise their traditions,” he said.

The Yukon Human Rights commission also prohibits discrimination on numerous grounds, including criminal records.

“The lead reason (of this) is because they’re bad boys, they’re criminals,” said Hodgins about KFN’s arguments.

Justice Peter Chisholm will render his decision June 26 at 2 p.m.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read