Police conduct a check stop in Riverdale in December 2016. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in pushing for IMPACT to be brought to Dawson City

IMPACT, mandatory for licence reinstatement following drunk driving charges, is only held in Whitehorse

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation’s justice coordinator is pushing for a program that must be completed by people convicted of drunk driving before they can get their licenses back to be brought to Dawson City.

Information and Motivation for Positive Action and Choices Today — better known as IMPACT — is a free program consisting of four classes and one evaluation session spaced out over five weeks. As of December 2012, people who have their driver’s licenses suspended following an impaired driving charge must successfully complete IMPACT before they can apply to the Yukon Driver Control Board to have their licenses reinstated.

The program, however, is currently only offered in Whitehorse, which Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s justice coordinator George Filipovic says poses a problem for people living in the communities who need to take it.

“I think it’s a really high barrier for people living in the communities…. Not only taking time off your job, which is already one expense, but then you have to pay to travel to Whitehorse, you have to pay, usually, to stay at a hotel, pay for food that’s outside your house and you have to do that four different weeks, four weeks in a row,” he said, adding that the problem is compounded for single parents who also have to make child care arrangements.

“I think, from our perspective, punishment needs to be equitable, and it’s fundamentally unfair to offer many courtesies to Whitehorse residents in regards to this program — for example, offering it after hours so (participants) don’t have to take time off work and offering it for free — while then, asking of Dawson residents to take massive amounts of time away from their work and their families and pay massive amounts of expense to get to Whitehorse. There needs to be more equity, from our perspective, in regards to these justice outcomes.”

Filipovic said that Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in has been in talks with the Yukon government for about a year now to have IMPACT hosted in Dawson. Having it hosted locally would not only benefit Dawson residents who need to take the program, Filipovic said, but also residents from nearby communities.

As part of the effort, Filipovic has been gauging what interest exists in having IMPACT hosted in Dawson by posting to local Facebook groups. He said the response has been enthusiastic, particularly from Mayo.

“Facebook is a public platform but people were so excited, I guess, by the prospect of it being offered in Dawson that they were tagging each other and making comments…. On top of the people who publicly responded, there was a few people who also sent me a private message saying that they would love to have it offered in Dawson,” he said.

He added that in his role as justice coordinator, he’s also had several clients tell him they want IMPACT offered closer to home, including one “elderly gentleman” who’s been waiting to take the course for about three years and hasn’t been able to work because he doesn’t have a license.

“On the current dockets, I would say, for the last six months to a year, about half to two-thirds of the people charged are facing some kind of impaired driving offence in Dawson, so my assumption is that quite a few people would benefit from this course in Dawson,” Filipovic said.

In an interview April 27, Mary Vanstone, the director of mental wellness and substance use services with the Department of Health and Social Services, said that there are currently plans to bring a “trial” of IMPACT to Dawson. Those plans are still in their early stages, Vanstone said, but she expects everything to be ready “sometime before the end of summer.”

The trial would involve qualified counsellors from Whitehorse travelling up to Dawson, Vanstone said, and having local counsellors shadow them as they lead the program.

The long-term goal, Vanstone said, is to bring IMPACT to all four of the mental wellness and substance use services hubs around the territory, using the Dawson trial as a model for how to deliver the training and programming.

“What we want to do is ensure we’ve trained staff to the same standard of the staff that are here in Whitehorse and that we’re providing the same quality of service,” she said. “(We want to ensure IMPACT is) going to be consistent throughout the territory in the hubs.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Turtle and rhino fossils fill in ‘massive’ Yukon history gap

Fossils discovered in 1973 are turning heads

In with the old for Dawson City

Town council considers new heritage bylaw

Housing First facility is open, still more work to do, housing advocate says

Residents will be moved in by the end of the month

Whitehorse releases proposed $33M capital budget for 2020

It includes money for upgrading city infrastructure along with focusing on reducing energy use

Whitehorse animal shelter in dire straits, humane society says

Humane Society Yukon is holding a public meeting Nov. 26 to determine shelter and society’s future

Driving with Jens: Yielding is at the heart of defensive driving

If you’re like most people, you probably think about whether you have right-of-way, not yielding

Today’s mailbox: Remembrance Day, highway work

Letters to the editor published Nov. 13

F.H. Collins Warriors beat Vanier Crusaders in Super Volley boys volleyball final

“As long as we can control their big plays to a minimum, we’ll be successful”

Yukonomist: The squirrel, the husky and the rope

The squirrel is political popularity.

Government workers return to Range Road building

The building had been evacuated in October.

City news, briefly

The Food for Fines campaign and transit passes for a refugee family came up at City Hall this week

Rams, Warriors win Super Volley semifinals

The girls final will be Vanier and Porter Creek while the boys final will be F.H. Collins and Vanier

Most Read