A review of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the creation of a new committee of Yukon government and First Nations officials were among the things to come out of the last Yukon Forum of 2018.
Premier Sandy Silver, Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) Grand Chief Peter Johnston and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation chief-elect Dana Tizya-Tramm spoke to media following the conclusion of meetings in Whitehorse Dec. 14.
Silver announced that the Yukon government and Yukon First Nations will be launching a joint review of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, which was established following the signing of the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA).
The review, which will be led by the Department of Environment and CYFN, will itself be carried out by “an independent and objective contractor,” Silver said, with the aim of evaluating the board’s role “in supporting the sustainable management of fish and wildlife in the territory” and to see if it’s meeting its mandate as laid out in the UFA.
Silver said the review “should be completed within 2019” but did not provide further details on the timeline or scope.
Silver and Johnston also announced the creation of the joint senior executive committee, which will be made up of Yukon government deputy ministers and Yukon First Nations executive directors. The committee, which Silver and Johnston both described as likely the first and only of its kind in the country, will allow further in-depth discussions to happen between governments, they said, and is not meant to replace other meetings or conversations.
Other topics covered during the forum included child welfare, land use planning and justice.
Johnston said that while leaders had conversations about the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC), there was also talk about how to keep First Nations citizens out of the jail in the first place. He said it was “backwards” that some people only begin receiving support services once they’re in the WCC when things like child welfare programs and adequate access to health and social services earlier on could have kept them out of jail in the first place.
Silver added that progress was being made on the recommendations made in a report on the WCC earlier this year. During the forum, he said, leaders discussed the possibility of getting inmates out on the land for healing programs, having a better-integrated case-management system, introducing more supports for inmates after they’re released, and offering more training for staff on topics like mental health.
Tizya-Tramm, who was attending the forum for the first time, said he was impressed and encouraged by the level and depth of the conversations that took place.
“It’s really a testament to our agreements and working with governments, and I would like to ask, where else in the world are Indigenous people, First Nations, sitting down in such a collaborative manner and a meaningful way?” he said, adding that it was important that First Nations youth are at the table, too.
The Yukon Forum is held four times a year.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org