Fragile First Nation YTG relations

HELEN’S FISH CAMP One voice at the Yukon Forum has been dominating the other, says the Council of Yukon First Nations.


One voice at the Yukon Forum has been dominating the other, says the Council of Yukon First Nations.

“Leaders are telling us that the Yukon forums have been one-sided going towards one agenda,” said its grand chief Andy Carvill, who was elected to a second term Tuesday.

“There were a couple instances of wanting to move our agenda, and unfortunately we encountered difficulty around that.”

Important First Nations’ concerns have been ignored, and past forums haven’t addressed the issues CYFN and its members wanted to discuss with the Yukon government, he said.

This time, CYFN plans to meet more regularly with the premier before the meeting to hammer out an acceptable agenda.

Health and social issues, such as a treatment centre, are top CYFN priorities.

Carvill’s comments came after Premier Dennis Fentie’s Thursday morning address to the CYFN general assembly at Helen’s Fish Camp on Lake Laberge.

Fentie also confirmed August 19 as the date for a landmark tri-lateral meeting with Ottawa, the territory and Yukon First Nations, to be held in Whitehorse after the forum.

An agenda for the tri-government meeting has not been set, but money for implementation is expected to be a major issue.

A nine-year review of the self-government agreements determined Ottawa’s implementation investment is inadequate, said Fentie in an interview with reporters.

“There are national policies that are inconsistent with the obligations of the government, agreed to under Yukon land-claim, self-government and final agreements,” he said.

Applying pressure would do more harm than good, added Fentie.

He suggested a collaborative approach would help to advance Yukon interests.

 “Let us demonstrate accountability … and from that point we can make our case,” said Fentie.

The Yukon Forum is supposed to bring the territory, CYFN’s grand chief and chiefs of self-governing First Nations together four times a year.

Because the parties have jurisdiction over similar matters, the forum is used to address concerns and problems arising from the awkward situation.

“It’s incumbent on us as First Nation leaders to make sure our agendas come to the forefront, especially at the Yukon Forum,” said Carvill.

The Yukon Forum has led to successful working groups on legislative issues like education reform and natural resources, he added.

Tense, however, seems to be the default position in government relations with First Nations.

Though the relationship is workable and has recently improved, said Carvill.

“We had some successful meetings in Ottawa, recently, and I look forward to continue to work with (Fentie) to have him help us lobby,” he said.

Both sides learned lessons from the battle over the new Child and Family Services Act.

“We spent a number of years working on it; unfortunately, at the end, the government decided to move on it and there were several outstanding issues,” said Carvill.

The new corrections act, a major overhaul of corrections in the Yukon, will retest these fragile relations.

The government has a constructive working relationship with CYFN and all First Nations, said Fentie.

“There are times when, bi-laterally, there are disagreements,” he said.

But respecting First Nations jurisdictions as defined by the self-government agreements has been a cornerstone of intergovernmental relations, he added.

The correctional reform legislation could be introduced in the near future.

The government hopes the legislation, which drew on First Nation contributors, will have an easier ride becoming law than past legislative reforms.

First Nations protested against the Child and Family Services Act introduced last spring because some felt it centralized too much power within government.

The government capitulated and added an independent child’s advocate at the last minute.

“These initiatives are things that have languished for years under past governments,” said Fentie.

“It’s this government that’s shown the intestinal fortitude and demonstrated the will and commitment to address deficiencies in (Yukon legislation).”

Carvill wants to sit down with the premier and the three Yukon First Nations without self-government agreements to develop plans for lobbying Ottawa on the health and social issues arising from each community, including adequate housing, safe drinking water, education, employment and reserve status, which would allow the First Nations to collect taxes from settlement land.

“We will work with those First Nations to ensure Canada meets its obligations to Liard, Ross River and White River,” said Fentie.

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

Just Posted

COMMENTARY: Know your rights: Yukon’s anti-discrimination laws in housing

Luke FraughtSpecial to the News For three reasons, now is an extremely… Continue reading

Man convicted of sexually abusing 13 girls given 1.5 years’ credit on sentence after appeal

Man was given 1,299 days’ credit for time in jail pre-sentencing when he should have received 1,850

Yukon RCMP breach agreement with Queer Yukon by attending Pride flag raising in uniform

High-ranking Yukon RCMP officers broke an agreement with Queer Yukon last month… Continue reading

Tr’ondek Hwech’in citizens living outside traditional territory didn’t receive mail-in ballots in time for byelection

Despite tricky timelines, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in says the Elections Act was followed

Dust devil rips apart pop-up fruit stand in Haines Junction

Owner George Redies says he’s thankful for the help and support he’s received from Yukoners

Today’s mailbox: long-term care oversight

Letters to the editor published Aug. 12

Group of B.C. First Nations announce mutual support of travel, hunting restrictions

Group of B.C. First Nations announce mutual support of travel, hunting restrictions… Continue reading

Whitehorse airport baggage handling to be upgraded

Baggage handling at the Whitehorse airport is getting an upgrade next year.… Continue reading

Whitehorse driver pleads not guilty in 2019 pedestrian death

A Whitehorse driver charged with failing to yield for a pedestrian at… Continue reading

Yukon Filmmakers Fund awards announced

Four local filmmakers will receive $20,000 as they continue work on their… Continue reading

UPDATED: Yukon privacy commissioner releases information on COVID Alert app

The office of the IPC has said it has no stance on whether Yukoners should download the app

Changes to federal infrastructure funds allow for COVID-19 flexibility

Announcement allows for rapid COVID-19 projects and expands energy programs to Whitehorse

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read