Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation has filed a response to a petition by a citizen arguing that the First Nation’s residency requirement for council candidates violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.(James Munson/Yukon News file)

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation files response to citizen’s legal petition over residency requirements

The First Nation is arguing that Cindy Dickson has not exhausted all “adequate alternative remedies”

A Vuntut Gwitchin citizen who is seeking a judicial review over a residency requirement for citizens who want to run for council is acting prematurely, the First Nation says.

In a response filed to the Yukon Supreme Court Feb. 6, Vuntut Gwitch First Nation (VGFN) argues that Cindy Dickson had not exhausted the “adequate alternative remedies” that are available, and that “requiring pursuit of theses remedies is consistent with the need to preserve the integrity of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation self-government.”

Dickson filed a petition to the Yukon Supreme Court in January, alleging that a requirement in VGFN’s constitution that all citizens running for council must reside on settlement land violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Dickson had submitted her nomination forms for a council position in the lead-up to VGFN’s 2018 election, but was rejected on the basis that she resides in Whitehorse.

Old Crow is the only portion of VGFN settlement land that’s consistently inhabited.

In her petition, Dickson argues that the residency requirement results in the unfair and unequal treatment of VGFN citizens who live off of settlement and violates a portion of the Charter guaranteeing equality rights. She’s asking for the requirement to be struck.

In its response, VGFN opposes the granting of any of the relief Dickson’s seeking. Along with claiming that Dickson has not exhausted the “adequate alternative remedies” available to her, the response also argues that the Charter does not apply to the VGFN constitution anyway.

The response also argues that, even if the court finds the Charter does apply to the VGFN constitution, the residency requirement is a reasonable limit, demonstrably justified in a free and democratic Vuntut Gwitchin society.”

Dickson’s petition is believed to be the first of its kind in the Yukon. While there have been several instances in other parts of Canada of First Nations citizens challenging the constitutionality of residency requirements, there have been no prior cases involving a self-governing Yukon First Nation.

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

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that Dickson is seeking a judicial review, and that she submitted nomination forms leading up to the election

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

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Most Read