VGFN stays out of CYFN

The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation has voted, unanimously, to stay outside of the Council of Yukon First Nations.

The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation has voted, unanimously, to stay outside of the Council of Yukon First Nations.

During the council’s general assembly last month, the council’s 10 Yukon First Nation members passed a resolution asking the Vuntut Gwitchin, Kwanlin Dun and Kaska First Nations (Liard and Ross River) to reconsider joining the group.

Both chiefs Norma Kassi of the Vuntut Gwitchin and Rick O’Brien of the Kwanlin Dun said they would take the resolution back to their membership during their own, upcoming, general assemblies.

No Kaska representatives attended the council’s assembly.

Vuntut Gwitchin citizens gathered in Old Crow during the first weekend of August.

Ruth Massie, grand chief of the council, flew to the remote community to persuade it to rejoin the group.

She spoke to the assembly broadly about strength in unity and, specifically, about how federal officials say they will only discuss certain matters with all Yukon First Nations.

“VGFN’s current relationship with all levels of government is really strong,” said Kassi. “And there was very clear direction from our citizens to abstain from membership from CYFN at this time.”

In terms of regional alliances, the Vuntut Gwitchin will continue working on and within the northern First Nations alliance, which includes the Nacho Nyak Dun and Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nations, and the Gwich’in Tribal Council from the NWT.

The Vuntut Gwitchin government will also continue to work with the council on issues that pertain to them, said Kassi, noting the council gets money to spread across all Yukon First Nations.

And all territorial aboriginal groups are welcome to participate in council activities, but, as nonmembers, voting rights are sacrificed in the absence of membership fees.

But there was never an issue of money, said Kassi.

There was an issue with management.

In January, the council took control of a formerly arm’s-length subsidiary called the Self-Government Secretariat.

It is a resource centre that gathers information, legislation and policy from all self-governing First Nations (members of the council, or not) and puts it in an organized, central place, making it accessible to all First Nations.

Many regard this as one of the council’s essential services.

The January resolution gave the council’s grand chief and executive director full administrative oversight of the secretariat.

This cuts nonmember First Nations from having a say in the secretariat’s affairs. They will only have observer status.

“We thought that the Self Government Secretariat was doing really well and moving forward,” said Kassi.

Now, however, it is under the control of the CYFN more than it ever was before.

“We have real concerns about that,” said Kassi.

The secretariat’s former director, Pauline Frost, resigned exactly one month after the January resolution passed. She is a citizen of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation.

“We were hoping that the self-government secretariat could have been built to bring that strong unity amongst all Yukon First Nations,” said Kassi.

“There was a breakdown in communication,” Massie said at the time of the January resolution. “The secretariat has always been a part of CYFN. It is not a separate entity.”

And the council is a political entity, she added.

After the vote in Old Crow, Massie’s only comment was to say she will bring the news of the Vuntut Gwitchin’s decision to the council’s next leadership meeting to get the member chief’s direction on what to do next.

The Council of Yukon First Nations started in 1973, as the Council of Yukon Indians, to help Yukon First Nations settle land claims and establish self-government.

After the Umbrella Final Agreement was signed in 1993, it has been floundering, unable to pin down its reason for existence.

The Vuntut Gwitchin left the council in 2008, with then-chief Joe Linklater claiming a lack of openness and transparency with the council’s political direction.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Yukon News file
A 21-year-old man is in custody after a stabbing in Porter Creek on May 14.
One man in hospital, another in custody, after alleged stabbing in Porter Creek

A police dog was used to track the suspect who was later arrested in a wooded area.

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Former Liberal MLA Pauline Frost speaks to reporters outside the courthouse on April 19. One of the voters accused of casting an invalid vote has been granted intervenor status in the lawsuit Frost filed last month. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Voters named in Pauline Frost election lawsuit ask to join court proceedings

The judge granted Christopher Schafer intervenor status

Most Read